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History of Western Europe 



Professor of History in Columbia University 

History is no easy science ; 
its subject^ human society, 
is infinitely complex. 


Boston, U.S.A., and London 

11 1^00^:3 


Entered at Stationers' Hall 

Copyright, 1902, 1903 







■^ In introducing the student to the history of the 
development of European culture, the problem of pro- 
portion has seemed to me, throughout, the fundainental 
one. Consequently I have endeavored not only to state 
matters truly and clearly but also to bring the narrative 
into harmony with the most recent conceptions of the 
relative importance of past events and institutions. It 
has seemed best, in an elementary treatise upon so vast 
a theme, to omit the names of many personages and 
conflicts of secondary importance which have ordinarily 
found their way into our historical text-books. I have ven- 
tured also to neglect a considerable number of episodes 
and anecdotes which, while hallowed by assiduous repe- 
tition, appear to owe their place in our manuals rather to 
accident or mere tradition than to any profound meaning 
for the student of the subject. 

The space saved by these omissions has been used for 
three main purposes. Institutions under which Europe 
has lived for centuries, above all the Church, have been 
discussed with a good deal more fullness than is usual in 
similar manuals. The life and work of a few men of 
indubitably first-rate importance in the various fields of 
human endeavor — Gregory the Great, Charlemagne, 
Abelard, St. Francis, Petrarch, Luther, Erasmus, Vol- 
taire, Napoleon, Bismarck — have been treated with care 
proportionate to their significance for the world. Lastly, 

iv Preface 

the scope of the work has been broadened so that not 
only the political but also the economic, intellectual, and 
artistic achievements of the past form an integral part of 
the narrative. 

I have relied upon a great variety of sources belong- 
ing to the various orders in the hierarchy of historical 
literature ; it is happily unnecessary to catalogue these. 
In some instances I have found other manuals, dealing 
with portions of my field, of value. In the earlier chapters, 
Emerton's admirable Introduction to the Middle Ages fur- 
nished many suggestions. For later periods, the same may 
be said of Henderson's careful Germany in the Middle 
Ages and Schwill's clear and well-proportioned History 
of Modern Europe. For the most recent period, I have 
made constant use of Andrews' scholarly Development 
of Modern Europe. For England, the manuals of Green 
and Gardiner have been used. The greater part of the 
work is, however, the outcome of study of a wide range 
of standard special treatises dealing with some short 
period or with a particular phase of European progress. 
As examples of these, I will mention only Lea's monu- 
mental contributions to our knowledge of the juris- 
prudence of the Church, Rashdall's History of the Uni- 
versities in the Middle Ages, Richter's incomparable 
Annalen der Deutschen Geschichte im Mittelalter, the 
Histoire Ge'jterale, and the well-known works of Luchaire, 
Voigt, Hefele, Bezold, Janssen, Levasseur, Creighton, 
Pastor. In some cases, as in the opening of the Renais- 
sance, the Lutheran Revolt, and the French Revolution, 
I have been able to form my opinions to some extent 
from first-hand material. 

Preface v 

My friends and colleagues have exhibited a generous 
interest in my enterprise, of which I have taken constant 
advantage. Professor E. H. Castle of Teachers College, 
Miss Ellen S. Davison, Dr. William R. Shepherd, and Dr. 
James T. Shot well of the historical department of Columbia 
University, have very kindly read part of my manuscript. 
The proof has been revised by my colleague, Professor 
William A. Dunning, Professor Edward P. Cheyney of 
the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Ernest F. Henderson, 
and by Professor Dana C. Munro of the University of Wis- 
consin. To all of these I am much indebted. Both in the 
arduous preparation of the manuscript and in the reading 
of the proof my wife has been my constant companion, 
and to her the volume owes innumerable rectifications in 
arrangement and diction. I would also add a word of 
gratitude to my publishers for their hearty cooperation 
in their important part of the undertaking. 

The Readings in European History, a manual now in 
preparation, and designed to accompany this volume, will 
contain comprehensive bibliographies for each chapter 
and a selection of illustrative material, which it is hoped 
will enable the teacher and pupil to broaden and vivify 
their knowledge. In the present volume I have given 
only a few titles at the end of some of the chapters, and 
in the footnotes I mention, for collateral reading, under 
the heading ''Reference," chapters in the best available 
books, to which the student may be sent for additional 
detail. Almost all the books referred to might properly 
find a place in every high-school library. j^ ^ ^ 

Columbia University, 
January 12, 1903. 



I The Historical Point of View i 

II Western Europe before the Barbarian Invasions 8 

III The German Invasions and the Break-up of the 

Roman Empire 25 

IV The Rise of the Papacy > 44 

V The Monks and the Conversion of the Germans 56 

VI Charles Martel and Pippin 67 

VII Charlemagne 77 

VIII The Disruption of Charlemagne's Empire ... 92 

IX Feudalism 104 

X The Development of France 120 

XI England in the Middle Ages 133 

XII Germany and Italy in the Tenth and Eleventh 

Centuries 148 

XIII The Conflict between Gregory VII and Henry IV 164 

XIV The Hohenstaufen Emperors and the Popes . , 173 
XV The Crusades 187 

XVI The Medieval Church at its Height .... 201 

XVII Heresy and the Friars 216 

XVIII The People in Country and Town 233 

XIX The Culture of the Middle Ages 250 

XX The Hundred Years' War 277 

XXI The Popes and the Councils 303 

XXII The Italian Cities and the Renaissance . . . 321 

XXIII Europe AT THE Opening OF THE Sixteenth Century 354 

XXIV Germany before the Protestant Revolt . . . 369 
XXV Martin Luther and his Revolt against the 

Church 387 


viii Contents 


XXVI Course of the Protestant Revolt in Germany, 

1521-1555 405 

XXVII The Protestant Revolt in Switzerland and 

England 421 

XXVIII The Catholic Reformation — Philip II . . . 437 

XXIX The Thirty Years' War 465 

XXX Struggle in England for Constitutional 

Government 475 

XXXI The Ascendency of France under Louis XIV 495 

XXXII Rise of Russia and Prussia 509 

XXXIII The Expansion of England 523 

XXXIV The Eve of the French Revolution • • • • 537 
XXXV The French Revolution 558 

XXXVI The First French Republic 574 

XXXVII Napoleon Bonaparte 592 

XXXVIII Europe and Napoleon 606 

XXXIX Europe after the Congress of Vienna . . . 625 

XL The Unification of Italy and Germany . . 642 

XLI Europe of To-day 671 

List of Books 689 

Index 691 



1 The Roman Empire at its Greatest Extent 8-9 

2 The Barbarian Inroads 26-27 

3 Europe in the Time of Theodoric 31 

4 The Dominions of the Franks under the Merovingians ... t^j 

5 Christian Missions , 63 

6 Arabic Conquests 71 

7 The Empire of Charlemagne 82-83 

8 Treaty of Verdun 93 

9 Treaty of Mersen 9^ 

10 Fiefs and Suzerains of the Counts of Champagne . ... . 113 

ri France at the Close of the Reign of Philip Augustus . . . 129 

12 The Plantagenet Possessions in England and France . . . 141 

13 Europe about A. D. 1000 152-153 

14 Italian Towns in the Twelfth Century 175 

15 Routes of the Crusaders 1 90-1 91 

16 The Crusaders' States in Syria 193 

17 Ecclesiastical Map of France in the Middle Ages .... 205 

18 Lines of Trade and Mediaeval Towns 242-243 

19 The British Isles 278-279 

20 Treaty of Bretigny, 1360 287 

21 French Possessions of the English King in 1424 294 

22 France under Louis XI 298-299 

23 Voyages of Discovery 349 

24 Europe in the Sixteenth Century 35^-359 

25 Germany in the Sixteenth Century 372-373 

26 The Swiss Confederation 422 

27 Treaty of Utrecht .,....,. 506-507 


X List of Maps 


28 Northeastern Europe in the Eighteenth Century 513 

29 Provinces of France in the Eighteenth Century 539 

30 Salt Tax in France 541 

31 France in Departments 568-569 

32 Partitions of Poland 584 

33 Europe at the Height of Napoleon's Power 614-615 

34 Europe in 1815 626-627 

35 Races of Austro-Hungary 649 

36 Europe of To-day 666-667 


I Page from an Illuminated Manuscript . . Frontispiece 
II Facade of Rheims Cathedral .... Facing page 264 

III Interior of Exeter Cathedral . . . Facing page 266 

IV Bronze Statues of Philip the Good and Charles 

THE Bold at Innsbruck Facing page 300 

V Bronze Doors of the Cathedral at Pisa . 


VI Ghiberti's Doors at Florence 

VII Giotto's Madonna \ 

> 346-347 
VIII Holy Family by Andrea del Sarto ... 3 






I. History, in the broadest sense of the word, is all that we The scope of 
know about everything that man has ever done, or thought, 
or hoped, or felt. It is the limitless science of past human 
affairs, a subject immeasurably vast and important but exceed- 
ingly vague. The historian may busy himself deciphering 
hieroglyphics on an Egyptian obelisk, describing a mediaeval 
monastery, enumerating the Mongol emperors of Hindustan 
or the battles of Napoleon. He may explain how the Roman 
Empire was conquered by the German barbarians, or why the 
United States and Spain came to blows in 1898, or what Calvin 
thought of Luther, or what a French peasant had to eat in the 
eighteenth century. We can know something of each of these 
matters if we choose to examine the evidence which still exists ; 
they all help to make up history. 

The present volume deals with a small but very important object of this 

portion of the history of the world. Its object is to give as 

adequate an account as is possible in one volume of the chief 
changes in western Europe since the German barbarians over- 
came the armies of the Roman Empire and set up states of 
their own, out of which the present countries of France, Ger- 
many, Italy, Austria, Spain, the Netherlands, and England 

2 History of Western Europe 

have slowly grown. There are, however, whole libraries upon 
the history of each of these countries during the last fifteen 
hundred years, and it requires a volume or two to give a 
tolerably complete account of any single important person, 
like St. Francis, Cromwell, Frederick the Great, or Napoleon. 
Besides biographies and general histories, there are many special 
treatises upon the Church and other great institutions ; upon 
the literature, art, philosophy, and law of the various countries. 
It is obvious, therefore, that only a very few of the historical 
facts known to scholars can possibly find a place in a single 
volume such as this. One who undertakes to condense what 
we know of Europe's past, since the times of Theodosius and 
Alaric, into the space of six hundred pages assumes a very 
grave responsibihty. The reader has a right to ask not only 
that what he finds in the book shall be at once true and 
clearly stated, but that it shall consist, on the whole, of the 
most important and useful of all the things which might have 
been selected from the well-nigh infinite mass of true things 
that are known. 

We gain practically nothing from the mere enumeration of 
events and dates. The student of history wishes to know how 
people Hved ; what were their institutions (which are really 
only the habits of nations), their occupations, interests, and 
achievements ; how business was transacted in the Middle 
Ages almost without the aid of money ; how, later, commerce 
increased and industry grew up ; what a great part the Chris- 
tian church played in society ; how the monks li\'ed and what 
they did for mankind. In short, the object of an introduc- 
tion to mediaeval and modern European history is the descrip- 
tion of the most significant achievements of western civilization 
during the past fifteen hundred years, — the explanation of hov/ 
the Roman Empire of the West and the wild and unknown dis- 
tricts inhabited by the German races have become the Europe 
of Gladstone and Bismarck, of Darwin and Pasteur. 

The Historical Point of View 3 

In order to present even an outline of the great changes 
during this long period, all that was exceptional and abnormal 
must be left out. We must fix our attention upon man's 
habitual conduct, upon those things that he kept on doing 
in essentially the same way for a century or_ so. Particular 
events are important in so far as they illustrate these permanent 
conditions and explain how the western world passed from one 
state to another. 

We must learn, above all, to study sympathetically institu- we should 
tions and beliefs that we are tempted at first to declare absurd past^sympa- 
and unreasonable. The aim of the historian is not to prove ^ ^^^ ^' 
that a particular way of doing a thing is right or wrong, as, for 
instance, intrusting the whole government to a king or forbid- 
ding clergymen to marry. His object is to show as well as he 
can how a certain system came to be introduced, what was 
thought of it, how it worked, and how another plan gradually 
supplanted it. It seems to us horrible that a man should be 
burned alive because he holds views of Christianity different 
from those of his neighbors. Instead, however, of merely con- 
demning the practice, we must, as historical students, endeavor 
to see why practically every one in the thirteenth century, even 
the wisest and most tender-hearted, agreed that such a fearful 
punishment was the appropriate one for a heretic. An effort 
has, therefore, been made throughout this volume to treat the 
convictions and habits of men and nations in the past with 
consideration ; that is, to make them seem natural and to show 
their beneficent rather than their evil aspects. It is not the 
weakness of an institution, but the good that is in it, that 
leads men to adopt and retain it. 

2. It is impossible to divide the past into distinct, clearly impossibility 

defined periods and prove that one age ended and another the past into 
, . . , , . ^ clearly de- 

began in a particular year, such as 476, or 1453, or 1789. fined periods. 

Men do not and cannot change their habits and ways of 

doing things all at once, no matter what happens. It is true 

History of Western Europe 

All general 
take place 

The unity or 
continuity of 

that a single event, such as an important battle which results 
in the loss of a nation's independence, may produce an abrupt 
change in the government. This in turn may encourage or 
discourage commerce and industry and modify the language 
and the spirit pf a people. Yet these deeper changes take 
place only very gradually. After a battle or a revolution the 
farmer will sow and reap in his old way, the artisan will 
take up his familiar tasks, and the merchant his buying and 
selling. The scholar will study and write and the household 
go on under the new government just as they did under the 
old. So a change in government affects the habits of a 
people but slowly in any case, and it may leave them quite 

The French Revolution, at the end of the eighteenth century, 
was probably the most abrupt and thoroughgoing change in 
the habits of a nation of which we have any record. But we 
shall find, when we come to study it, that it was by no means 
so sudden in reality as is ordinarily supposed. Moreover, the 
innovators did not even succeed in permanently altering the 
form of government ; for when the French, after living under 
a monarchy for many centuries, set up a republic in 1792, the 
new government lasted only a few years. The nation was 
monarchical by habit and soon gladly accepted the rule of 
Napoleon, which was more despotic than that of any of its 
former kings. In reorganizing the state he borrowed much 
from the discarded monarchy, and the present French republic 
still retains many of these arrangements. 

This tendency of mankind to do, in general, this year what 
it did last, in spite of changes in some one department of 
Hfe, — such as substituting a president for a king, traveling by 
rail instead of on horseback, or getting the news from a news- 
paper instead of from a neighbor, — results in what is called the 
unity or continuity of history. The truth that no abrupt change 
has ever taken place in all the customs of a people, and that it 

The Historical Point of View 5 

cannot, in the nature of things, take place, is perhaps the most 
fundamental lesson that history teaches. 

Historians sometimes seem to forget this principle, when 
they claim to begin and end their books at precise dates. We 
find histories of Europe from 476 to 918, from 1270 to 1492, 
as if the accession of a capable German king in 918, or the 
death of a famous French king in 1270, or the discovery of 
America, marked a general change in European affairs. In 
reality, however, no general change took place at these dates 
or in any other single year. It would doubtless have proved 
a great convenience to the readers and writers of history if the 
world had agreed to carry out a definite programme and alter its 
habits at precise dates, preferably at the opening of each cen- 
tury. But no such agreement has ever been adopted, and the 
historical student must take things as he finds them. He must 
recognize that nations retain their old customs while they adopt 
new ones, and that a portion of a nation may advance while a 
great part of it stays behind. 

3. We cannot, therefore, hope to fix any year or event Meaning of 
which may properly be taken as the beginning of that long 'Middle 
period which followed the downfall of the Roman state in 
western Europe and which is commonly called the Middle 
Ages. Beyond the northern and western boundaries of the 
Roman Empire, which embraced the whole civilized world 
from the Euphrates to Britain, mysterious peoples moved 
about whose history before they came into occasional contact 
with the Romans is practically unknown. These Germans, or 
barbarians, as the Romans called them, were destined to put an 
end to the Roman Empire in the West. They had first begun 
to make trouble about a hundred years before Christ, when 
a great army of them was defeated by the Roman general, 
Marius. JuHus Caesar narrates in poHshed Latin, familiar to 
all who have begun the study of that language, how fifty years 
later he drove back other bands. Five hundred years elapsed, 


6 History of Western Europe 

however, between these first encounters and the founding 
of German kingdoms within the boundaries of the Empire. 
With their estabhshment the Roman government in western 
Europe may be said to have come to an end and the Middle 
Ages to have begun. 

Yet it would be a great mistake to suppose that this means 
that the Roman civilization suddenly disappeared at this time. 
As we shall see, it had gradually changed during the centuries 
following the golden age of Augustus, who died a.d. 14. Long 
before the German conquest, art and literature had begun to 
decline toward the level that they reached in the Middle Ages. 
Many of the ideas and conditions which prevailed after the 
coming of the barbarians were common enough before, — 
even the ignorance and want of taste which we associate 
particularly with the Middle Ages. 

The term Middle Ages is, then, a vague one. It will be used 
in this volume to mean, roughly speaking, the period of nearly 
a thousand years that elapsed between the opening of the 
fifth century, when the disorder of the barbarian invasions 
was becoming general, and the fourteenth century, when 
Europe was well on its way to retrieve all that had been lost 
since the break-up of the Roman Empire. 
The ' dark It used to be assumed, when there was much less interest 

in the period than there now is, that with the disruption of the 
Empire and the disorder that followed, practically all culture 
perished for centuries, that Europe entered upon the *' dark 
ages." These were represented as dreary centuries of igno- 
rance and violence in marked contrast to the civilization of 
the Greeks and Romans on the one hand, and to the enlight^ 
enment of modern times on the other. The more careful 
studies of the last half century have made it clear that the 
Middle Ages were not "dark" in the sense of being stagnant 
and unproductive. On the contrary, they were full of move- 
ment and growth, and we owe to them a great many things 


TJie Historical Point of View 7 

in our civilization which we should never have derived from 
Greece and Rome. It is the purpose of the first nineteen 
chapters of this manual to describe the effects of the barbarian 
conquests, the gradual recovery of Europe from the disorder 
of the successive invasions, and the peculiar institutions which 
grew up to meet the needs of the times. The remaining 
chapters will attempt to show how mediaeval institutions, habits, 
and ideas were supplanted, step by step, by those which exist 
in Europe to-day. 



Extent of 
the Roman 

Great diver- 
sity of races 
within the 
Empire . 

4. No one can hope to understand the Middle Ages who 
does not first learn something of the Roman Empire, within 
whose bounds the Germans set up their kingdoms and began 
the long task of creating modern Europe. 

At the opening of the fifth century there were no separate, 
independent states in western Europe such as we find on the 
map to-day. The whole territory now occupied by England, 
France, Spain, and Italy formed at that time only a part 
of the vast realms ruled over by the Roman emperor and 
his host of officials. As for Germany, it was still a region of 
forests, familiar only to the barbarous and half-savage tribes 
who inhabited them. The Romans tried in vain to conquer 
this part of Europe, and finally had to content themselves 
with keeping the German hordes out of the Empire by 
means of fortifications and guards along the Rhine and 
Danube rivers. 

The Roman Empire, which embraced southern and western 
Europe, western Asia, and even the northern portion of Africa, 
included the most diverse peoples and races. Egyptians, 
Arabs, Jews, Greeks, Germans, Gauls, Britons, Iberians, — all 
alike were under the sovereign rule of Rome. One great state 
embraced the nomad shepherds who spread their tents on the 
borders of Sahara, the mountaineers in the fastnesses of Wales, 
and the citizens of Athens, Alexandria, and Rome, heirs to all 
the luxury and learning of the ages. Whether one lived in York 

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Western Europe before the Barbarian hivasions 9 

or Jerusalem, Memphis or Vienna, he paid his taxes into the 

same treasury, he was tried by the same law, and looked to the 

same armies for protection. 

At first it seems incredible that this huge Empire, which Bonds which 

included African and Asiatic peoples as well as the most various Empire 

races of Europe in all stages of civilization, could have held 

together for five centuries instead of falHng to pieces, as might 
have been expected, long before the barbarians came in suffi- 
cient strength to establish their own kingdoms in its midst. 

Remains of a Roman Aqueduct, now used as 
Southern France 

Bridge, near Nimes, 

When, however, we consider the bonds of union which held the 
state together it is easy to understand the permanence of the 
Empire. These were : (i) the wonderfully organized govern- 
ment which penetrated to every part of the realm and allowed 
little to escape it; (2) the worship of the emperor as the 
incarnation of the government; (3) the Roman law in force 
everywhere ; (4) the admirable roads and the uniform system 
of coinage which encouraged intercommunication ; and, lastly, 
(5) the Roman colonies and the teachers maintained by the 


History of Western Europt 

The Roman 
attempted to 

The worship 
of the 

government, for through them the same ideas and cuhure were 
carried to even the most distant parts of the Empire. 

Let us first glance at the government and the emperor. His 
decrees were dispatched throughout the length and breadth 
of the Roman dominions; whatsoever pleased him became 
law, according to the well-known principle of the Roman con- 
stitution. While the cities were permitted some freedom in 
the regulation of their purely local affairs, the emperor and 
his innumerable and marvelously organized officials kept an 
eye upon even the humblest citizen. The Roman government, 
besides maintaining order, administering justice, and defend- 
ing the boundaries, assumed many other responsibiHties. It 
watched the grain dealers, butchers, and bakers ; saw that 
they properly suppUed the public and never deserted their 
occupation. In some cases it forced the son to follow the 
profession of his father. If it could have had its way, it would 
have had every one belong to a definite class of society, and 
his children after him. It kept the unruly poorer classes quiet 
in the towns by furnishing them with bread, and sometimes with 
wine, meat, and clothes. It provided amusement for them by 
expensive entertainments, such as races and gladiatorial com- 
bats. In a word, the Roman government was not only wonder- 
fully organized, so that it penetrated to the utmost confines of 
its territory, but it attempted to guard and regulate almost 
every interest in life. 

Every one was required to join in the worship of the emperor 
because he stood for the majesty of the Roman dominion. 
The inhabitants of each province might revere their particular 
gods, undisturbed by the government, but all were obhged as 
good citizens to join in the official sacrifices to the deified head 
of the state. The early Christians were persecuted, not only 
because their religion was different from that of their fellows, 
but because they refused to offer homage to the image of the 
emperor and openly prophesied the downfall of the Roman 

Westerft Europe before the Barbarian Invasions 

state. Their religion was incompatible with what was then 
deemed good citizenship, inasmuch as it forbade them to 
express the required veneration for the government. 

As there was one government, so there was one law for The Roman 
all the civilized world. Local differences were not consid- 
ered ; the same principles of reason, justice, and humanity 
were believed to hold whether the Roman citizen lived upon 
the Euphrates or the 
Thames. The law of 
the Roman Empire 
is its chief legacy to 
posterity. Its provi- 
sions are still in force 
in many of the states 
of Europe to-day, 
and it is one of the 
subjects of study in 
our American univer- 
sities. It exhibited 
a humanity unknown 
to the earHer legal 
codes. The wife, 
mother, and infant 
were protected from 
the arbitrary power 
of the head of the 

house, who, in earlier centuries, had been privileged to treat 
the members of his family as slaves. It held that it was 
better that a guilty person should escape than that an innocent 
person should be condemned. It conceived humanity, not 
as a group of nations and tribes, each with its peculiar institu- 
tions and legal customs, but as one people included in one 
great empire and subject to a single system of law based upon 
reason and equity. 

A Fortified Roman Gateway at Treves 


History of Western Europe 

Roads and 
public works. 

The same 
the Roman 

Loyalty to 
the Empire 
and convic- 
tion that it 
was eternal. 

Reasons why 
the Empire 
lost its power 
to defend 
Itself against 
the Germans. 

Magnificent roads were constructed, which enabled the 
messengers of the government and its armies to reach every 
part of the Empire with incredible speed. These highways 
made commerce easy and encouraged merchants and travelers 
to visit the most distant portions of the realm. Everywhere 
they found the same coins and the same system of weights and 
measures. Colonies were sent out to the confines of the 
Empire, and the remains of great public buildings, of theaters 
and bridges, of sumptuous villas and baths at places like 
Treves, Cologne, Bath, and Salzburg indicate how thoroughly 
the influence and civihzation of Rome penetrated to the utmost 
parts of the territory subject to her rule. 

The government encouraged education by supporting at least 
three teachers in every town of any considerable importance. 
They taught rhetoric and oratory and explained the works of 
the great writers. The Romans, who had no marked literary 
or artistic ability, had adopted the culture of the Greeks. 
This was spread abroad by the government teachers so that 
an educated man was pretty sure to find, even in the outlying 
parts of the great Empire, other educated men with much the 
same interests and ideas as his own. Everywhere men felt 
themselves to be not mere natives of this or that land but 
citizens of the world. 

During the four centuries from the first emperor, Augustus, 
to the barbarian invasions we hear of no attempt on the part 
of its subjects to overthrow the Empire or to secede from it. 
The Roman state, it was universally believed, was to endure 
forever. Had a rebellious nation succeeded in throwing off 
the rule of the emperor and estabhshing its independence, it 
would only have found itself outside the civilized world. 

5. Just why the Roman government, once so powerful and 
so universally respected, finally became unable longer to defend 
its borders and gave way before the scattered attacks of the 
German peoples, who never combined in any general alliance 

Western Europe before the Barbarian Invasions 13 

against it, is a very difficult question to answer satisfactorily. 
The inhabitants of the Empire appear gradually to have lost 
their energy and self-reliance and to have become less and less 
prosperous. This may be explained partially at least by the 
following considerations : (i) the terrible system of taxation, 
which discouraged and not infrequently ruined the members 
of the wealthier classes; (2) the existence of slavery, which 
served to discredit honest labor and demoralized the free 
workingmen ; (3) the steady decrease of population ; (4) the 
infiltration of barbarians, who prepared the way for the 
conquest of the western portion of the Empire by their 

It required a great deal of money to support the luxurious Oppressive 
court of the emperors and their innumerable officials and 
servants, and to supply "bread and circuses" for the popu- 
lace of the towns. All sorts of taxes and exactions were 
consequently devised by ingenious officials to make up the 
necessary revenue. The crushing burden of the great land 
tax, the emperor's chief source of income, was greatly increased 
by the pernicious way in which it was collected. The govern- 
ment made a group of the richer citizens in each of the towns 
permanently responsible for the whole amount due from all the 
landowners within their district. It was their business to col- 
lect the taxes and make up any deficiency, it mattered not from 
what cause. This responsibility and the weight of the taxes 
themselves ruined so many landowners that the government 
was forced to decree that no one should desert his estates in 
order to escape the exactions. Only the very rich could stand 
the drain on their resources. The middle class sank into pov- 
erty and despair, and in this way the Empire lost just that 
prosperous class of citizens who should have been the leaders 
in business enterprises. 

The sad plight of the poorer laboring classes was largely slavery, 
due to the terrible institution of slavery which prevailed 


History of Western Europe 

The villa. 

brings labor 
into dis- 

everywhere in ancient times. So soon as the Romans had 
begun to conquer distant provinces the number of slaves 
greatly increased. For six or seven centuries before the bar- 
barian invasions every kind of labor fell largely into their 
hands in both country and town. There were millions of 
them. A single rich landholder might own hundreds and even 
thousands, and it was a poor man that did not have several 
at least. 

Land was the only highly esteemed form of wealth in the 
Roman Empire, in spite of the heavy taxes imposed upon it. 
Without large holdings of land no one could hope to enjoy a 
high social position or an honorable office under the govern- 
ment. Consequently the land came gradually into the hands 
of the rich and ambitious, and the small landed proprietor 
disappeared. Great estates called villas covered Italy, Gaul, 
and Britain. These were cultivated and managed by armies 
of slaves, who not only tilled the land, but supplied their 
master, his household, and themselves with all that was needed 
on the plantation. The artisans among them made the tools, 
garments, and other manufactured articles necessary for the 
whole community, or " family," as it was called. Slaves cooked 
the food, waited on the proprietor, wrote his letters, and read 
to him. To a head slave the whole management of the villa 
was intrusted. A villa might be as extensive as a large village, 
but all its members were under the absolute control of the 
proprietor of the estate. A well-organized villa could supply 
itself with everything that it needed, and found Httle or no 
reason for buying from any outsider. 

Quite naturally, freemen came to scorn all manual labor 
and even trade, for these occupations were associated in their 
minds with the despised slave. Seneca, the philosopher, 
angrily rejects the suggestion that the practical arts were 
invented by a philosopher ; they were, he declares, " thought 
out by the meanest bondman." 

Western Europe before the Barbarian Invasions i 5 
Slavery did more than bring manual labor into disrepute ; it competition 

of SI3.VGS 

largely monopolized the market. Each great household where fatal to the 
articles of luxury were in demand relied upon its own host 
of dexterous and efficient slaves to produce them. Moreover, 
the owners of slaves frequently hired them out to those who 
needed workmen, or permitted them to work for wages, and in 
this way brought them into a competition with the free work- 
man which was fatal to him. 

It cannot be denied that a notable improvement in the improved 
condition of the slaves took place during the centuries immedi- the slaves 
ately preceding the barbarian invasions. Their owners aban- emancipa- 
doned the horrible subterranean prisons in which the farm 
hands were once miserably huddled at night. The law, more- 
over, protected the slave from some of the worst forms of 
abuse ; first and foremost, it deprived his master of the right 
to kill him. Slaves began to decrease in numbers before the 
German invasions. In the first place, the supply had been cut 
off after the Roman armies ceased to conquer new territory. 
In the second place, masters had for various reasons begun to 
emancipate their slaves on a large scale. 

The freed slave was called 2ifreedman, and was by no means in The freed- 
the position of one who was born free. It is true that he was no 
longer a chattel, a mere thing, but he had still to serve his former 
master, — who had now become his patron, — for a certain num- 
ber of days in the year. He was obliged to pay him a part of 
his earnings and could not marry without his patron's consent. 

Yet, as the condition of the slaves improved, and many of The coioni. 
them became freedmen, the state of the poor freeman only 
became worse. In the towns, if he tried to earn his living, he 
was forced to mingle with those slaves who were permitted to 
work for wages and with the freedmen, and he naturally tended 
to sink to their level. In the country the free agricultural 
laborers became colofii, a curious intermediate class, neither 
slave nor really free. They were bound to the particular bit 


History of Western Europe 

of land which some great proprietor permitted them to cul- 
tivate and were sold with it if it changed hands. Like the 
Resemblance mediaeval serf, they could not be deprived of their fields so long 
coio^i and the as they paid the owner a certain part of their crop and worked 
for him during a period fixed by the customs of the domain 
upon which they lived. This system made it impossible for 
the farmer to become independent, or for his son to be better 
off than he. The coloni and the more fortunate slaves tended 
to fuse into a single class ; for the law provided that, like the 
coloni, certain classes of country slaves were not to be taken 
from the field which they had been accustomed to cultivate 
but were to go with it if it was sold.^ 

Moreover, it often happened that the Roman proprietor had 
a number of dependents among the less fortunate landowners 
in his neighborhood. These, in order to escape the taxes and 
gain his protection as the times became more disorderly, sur- 
rendered their land to their powerful neighbor with the under- 
standing that he should defend them and permit them to 
continue during their lifetime to cultivate the fields, the title 
to which had passed to him. On their death their children 
became coloni. This arrangement, as we shall find, serves in 
a measure to explain the feudalism of later times. 

When a country is prosperous the population tends to 
increase. In the Roman Empire, even as early as Augustus, a 
falHng off in numbers was apparent, which was bound to sap the 
vitality of the state. War, plague, the evil results of slavery, 
and the outrageous taxation all combined to hasten the depopu- 
lation ; for when it is hard to make a living, men are deterred 
from marrying and find it difficult to bring up large families. 

In order to replenish the population great numbers of the 
Germans were encouraged to settle within the Empire, where 
they became coloni. Constantine is said to have called in 

1 There is a short description of Roman society in Hodgkin, Dynasty oj 
Theodosius, Chapter II. 


of Germans 
into the 

Western Europe before the Barbarian Invasions 17 

three hundred thousand of a single people. Barbarians were 
enHsted in the Roman legions to keep out their fellow- 
Germans. Julius Caesar was the first to give them a place 
among his soldiers. The expedient became more and more 
common, until, finally, whole armies were German, entire 
tribes being enlisted under their own chiefs. Some of the 
Germans rose to be distinguished generals ; others attained 
important positions among the officials of the government. 
In this way it came about that a great many of the inhabitants 
of the Roman Empire were Germans before the great inva- 
sions. The fine dividing the Roman and the barbarian was 
growing indistinct. It is not unreasonable to suppose that 
the influx of barbarians smoothed the way for the break-up of 
the western part of the Empire. Although they had a great 
respect for the Roman state, they must have kept some of 
their German love of individual liberty and could have had 
little sympathy for the despotism under which they lived. 

6. As the Empire declined in strength and prosperity and Decline of 
was gradually permeated by the barbarians, its art and litera- and art. 
ture fell far below the standard of the great writers and artists 
of the golden age of Augustus. The sculpture of Constan- 
tine's time was far inferior to that of Trajan's. Cicero's 
exquisitely finished style lost its charm for the readers of the 
fourth and fifth centuries, and a florid, inferior species of 
oratory took its place. Tacitus, who died about a.d. 120, is 
perhaps the latest of the Latin authors whose works may be 
ranked among the classics. No more great men of letters 
arose. Few of those who understand and enjoy Latin litera- 
ture to-day would think of reading any of the poetry or prose 
written after the beginning of the second century. 

During the three hundred years before the invasions those Reliance 
who read at all did not ordinarily take the trouble to study the compen-'^ 
classics, but relied upon mere collections of quotations ; and 
for what they called science, upon compendiums and manuals. 


History of Westei'u Europe 

for Chris- 

Promises of 

These the Middle Ages inherited, and it was not until the time 
of Petrarch, in the fourteenth century, that Europe once more 
reached a degree of cultivation which enabled the more dis- 
criminating scholars to appreciate the best productions of the 
great authors of antiquity, both Greek and Latin. ^ 

In spite of the general decline of which we have been 
speaking, the Roman world appeared to be making progress 
in one important respect. During the first and second centu- 
ries a sort of moral revival took place and a growing religious 
enthusiasm showed itself, which prepared the way for the 
astonishingly rapid introduction of the new Christian religion. 
Some of the pagan philosophers had quite given up the old 
idea which we find in Homer and Virgil, that there were many 
gods, and had reached an elevated conception of the one God 
and of our duty toward Him. " Our duty," writes the philoso- 
pher Epictetus at the end of the first century, " is to follow 
God, ... to be of one mind with Him, to devote ourselves to 
the performance of His commands." The emperor Marcus 
Aurelius (d. i8o) expresses similar sentiments in his Medi- 
tatiotis^ the notes which he wrote for his own guidance. 
There was a growing abhorrence for the notorious vices of 
the great cities, and an ever-increasing demand for pure and 
upright conduct. The pagan religions taught that the souls 
of the dead continued to exist in Hades ; but the life to come 
was believed to be a dreary existence at best. 

Christianity brought with it a new hope for all those who 
would escape from the bondage of sin, of which the serious- 
minded were becoming more and more conscious. It promised, 
moreover, eternal happiness after death to all who would con- 
sistently strive to do right. It appealed to the desires and 
needs of all kinds of men and women. For every one who 

1 Reference, Adams, Civilizafio7i during the Middle Ages, Chapter II, " What 
the Middle Ages started with." 

2 There are a number of editions of this work in English, and selections 
from Epictetus are issued by several publishers. See Readiitgs, Chapter II. 

Western Europe before the Barbarian Invasions 2 1 

called archbishops, and might summon the bishops of the 

province to a council to decide important matters. 

In 311 the emperor Galerius issued a decree placing the The first gen- 
^, . . ,. . , 1 1 r • • eral council, 

Christian religion upon the same legal footing as paganism. 325. Position 

Constantine, the first Christian emperor, carefully enforced this of Rome 
edict. In 325 the first general council of Christendom was period, 
called together under his auspices at Nicsea. It is clear from 
the decrees of this famous assembly that the Catholic Church 
had already assumed the form that it was to retain down to the 
present moment, except that there is no explicit recognition of 
the Bishop of Rome as the head of the whole church. Nev- 
ertheless, there were a number of reasons — to be discussed 
later — why the Bishop of Rome should sometime become the 
acknowledged ruler of western Christendom. The first of the 
Roman bishops to play a really important part in authentic 
history was Leo the Great, who did not take office until 440.^ 

Constantine's successors soon forbade pagan practices and The Church 

, . , , . , , /-,i . • 1 • i° the Theo- 

began to issue laws which gave the Christian clergy important dosian code. 

privileges. In the last book of the Theodosian Code, a great 
collection of the laws of the Empire, which was completed in 
438, all the imperial decrees are to be found which relate to 
the Christian Church and the clergy. We find that the clergy, 
in view of their holy duties, were exempted from certain oner- 
ous offices and from some of the taxes which the laity had 
to pay. They were also permitted to receive bequests. The 
emperors themselves richly endowed the Church. Their 
example was followed by rulers and private individuals all 
through the Middle Ages, so that the Church became incred- 
ibly wealthy and enjoyed a far greater income than any state 
of Europe. The clergy were permitted to try certain cases at 
law, and they themselves had the privilege of being tried in 
their own church courts for minor criminal offenses. This 

1 Reference, Adams, Civilization, Chapter III, " The Addition of Chris- 


History of Western hurope 

The Church 
survives the 

The Eastern 

last book of the Code begins with a definition of the Trinity ; 
and much space is given to a description of the different kinds 
of unbeHevers and the penalties attached to a refusal to accept 
the religion of the government.^ 

In these provisions of the Theodosian Code the later medi- 
aeval Church is clearly foreshadowed. The imperial govern- 
ment in the West was soon overthrown by the barbarian 
conquerors, but the Catholic Church conquered and absorbed 
the conquerors. When the officers of the Empire deserted 
their posts the bishops stayed to meet the oncoming invader. 
They continued to represent the old civilization and ideas of 
order. It was the Church that kept the Latin language alive 
among those who knew only a rude German dialect. It was 
the Church that maintained some little education in even the 
darkest period of confusion, for without the ability to read 
Latin its services could not have been performed and its 
officers could not have carried on their correspondence with 
one another. 

8. Although the Roman Empire remained one in law, gov- 
ernment, and culture until the Germans came in sufficient force 
to conquer the western portions of it, a tendency may never- 
theless be noticed some time before the conquest for the east- 
ern and western portions to drift apart. Constantine, who 
established his supremacy only after a long struggle with his 
rivals, hoped to strengthen the vast state by establishing a 
second capital, which should lie far to the east and dominate a 
region very remote from Rome. Constantinople was accord- 
ingly founded in 330 on the confines of Europe and Asia.'^ 
This was by no means supposed to destroy the unity of the 
Empire. Even when Theodosiils the Great arranged (395) 
that both his sons should succeed him, and that one should 

1 See Readings in European History^ Chapter II, for extracts from the 
Theodosian Code. 

2 An older town called Byzantium was utilized by Constantine as the basis 
of his new imperial city. 

Western Europe before the Barbarian hivasions 23 

rule in the West and one in the East, he did not intend to divide 
the Empire. It is true that there continued to be thereafter 
two emperors, each in his own capital, but they were supposed 
to govern one empire conjointly and in " unanimity." New 
laws were to be accepted by both. The writers of the time do 
not speak of two states but continue to refer to " the Empire," 
as if the administration were still in the hands of one ruler. 
Indeed the idea of one government for all civilized mankind 
did not pass away but continued to influence men during the 
whole of the Middle Ages. 

Although it was in the eastern part of the Empire that the 
barbarians first got a permanent foothold, the emperors at 
Constantinople were able to keep a portion of the old posses- 
sions of the Empire under their rule for centuries after the 
Germans had completely conquered the West. When at last 
the eastern capital of the Empire fell, it was not into the hands 
of the Germans, but into those of the Turks, who have held it 
since 1453. 

There will be no room in this volume to follow the history 

of the Eastern Empire, although it cannot be entirely ignored 

in studying western Europe. Its language and civilization had 

always been Greek, and owing to this and the influence of the 

Orient, its culture offers a marked contrast to that of the Latin 

West, which was adopted by the Germans. Learning never 

died out in the East as it did in the West, nor did art reach 

so low an ebb. 

For some centuries after the disruption of the Roman Constanti- 
nople the 
Empire in the West, the capital of the Eastern Empire most wealthy 
1 1 1 • • . /- 1 • ,1 1 11 ^°'i populous 

enjoyed the distinction of being the largest and most wealthy city of Europe 

city of Europe. Within its walls could be found the indi- early Middle 

cations of a refinement and civilization which had almost 

disappeared in the Occident. Its beautiful buildings, its 

parks and paved streets, filled the traveler from the West 

with astonishment. When, during the Crusades, the western 


24 ' History of Western Europe 

peoples were brought into contact with the learning and 
culture of Constantinople they were greatly and perma- 
nently impressed by them. 

General Reading. — For an outline of the history of the Roman 
Empire during the centuries immediately preceding the barbarian inva- 
sions, see BoTSFORD, History of Rome, West, Ancient History to the 
Death of Charlemagne, Myers, Rome: Its Rise and Fall, or MoREY, 
Outlines of Romajt History, — all with plenty of references to larger 
works on the subject. The best work in English on the conditions in 
the Empire upon the eve of the invasions is Dill, Roman Society in the 
Last Century of the Western Empire (Macmillan, $2.00). Hatch, The 
Inflicetice of Greek Thought upon the Christian Church (Williams & 
Norgate, ^i.oo),and Renan, The Influence of Rome on the Development 
of the Catholic Church (Williams & Norgate, ^i.oo), are very important 
for the advanced student. The best of the numerous editions of Gib- 
bon's great work. The Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire, which 
covers the whole history of the Middle Ages, is that edited by Bury 
(The Macmillan Company, 7 vols., $14.00). 



9. Previous to the year 375 the attempts of the Germans to The Huns 
penetrate into the Empire appear to have been due to their Goths into 
love of adventure, their hope of enjoying some of the advan- Battle of 
tages of their civihzed neighbors, or the need of new lands for 378? ° ^ ' 
their increasing numbers. And the Romans, by means of their 
armies, their walls, and their guards, had up to this time suc- 
ceeded in preventing the barbarians from violently occupying 
their territory. But suddenly a new force appeared which 
thrust the Germans out upon the weakened Empire. The 
Huns, a Mongolian folk from central Asia, swept down upon 
the Goths, who were a German tribe settled upon the Danube, 
and forced a part of them to seek shelter across the river, within 
the boundaries of the Empire. Here they soon fell out with 
the imperial officials, and a great battle was fought at Adrianople 
in 378 in which the Goths defeated and slew the emperor, 
Valens. The Germans had now not only broken through the 
boundaries of the Empire, but they had also learned that they 
could defeat the Roman legions. The battle of Adrianople 
may, therefore, be said to mark the beginning of the conquest 
of the western part of the Empire by the Germans. For some 
years, however, after the battle of Adrianople the various bands 
of West Goths — or Visigoths, as they are often called — 
were induced to accept the terms offered by the emperor's 
officials and some of the Goths agreed to serve as soldiers in 
the Roman armies. 



History of Western Europt 

Alaric takes 
Rome, 410. 

West Goths 
settle in 
Gaul and 

Before long one of the German chieftains, Alaric, became dis- 
satisfied with the treatment that he received. He collected an 
army, of which the nucleus consisted of West Goths, and set 
out for Italy. Rome fell into his hands in 410 and was plun- 
dered by his followers. Alaric appears to have been deeply 
impressed by the sight of the civilization about him. He did 
not destroy the city, hardly even did serious damage to it, and 
he gave especial orders to his soldiers not to injure the churches 
or take their property.^ 

Alaric died before he could find a satisfactory spot for his 
people to settle upon permanently. After his death the West 
Goths wandered into Gaul, and then into Spain, which had 
already been occupied by other barbarian tribes, — the Vandals 
and Suevi. These had crossed the Rhine into Gaul four years 
before Alaric took Rome ; for three years they devastated the 
country and then proceeded across the Pyrenees. When the 
West Goths reached Spain they quickly concluded peace with 
the Roman government. They then set to work to fight the 
Vandals, with such success that the emperor granted them a 
considerable district (419) in southern Gaul, where they estab- 
lished a West Gothic kingdom. Ten years after, the Vandals 
moved on into Africa, where they founded a kingdom and 
extended their control over the western Mediterranean. Their 
place in Spain was taken by the West Goths who, under their 
king, Euric (466-484), conquered a great part of the peninsula. 

1 St. Augustine, who was then living, gives us an idea of the impression that 
the capture of Rome made upon the minds of contemporaries, in an extraordinary 
work of his called The City of God. He undertakes to refute the argument of the 
pagans that the fall of the city was due to the anger of their old gods, who were 
believed to have withdrawn their protection on account of the insults heaped upon 
them by the Christians, who regarded them as demons. He points out that the 
gods whom /Eneas had brought, according to tradition, from Troy had been 
unable to protect the city from its enemies and asks why any reliance should 
be placed upon them when transferred to Italian soil. His elaborate refutation of 
pagan objections shows us that heathen beliefs still had a strong hold upon an 
important part of the population and that the question of the truth or falsity of 
the pagan religion was still a living one in Italy. 

The German Invasions 27 

so that their kingdom extended from the Loire to the Straits 
of Gibraltar.^ 

It is quite unnecessary to follow the confused history of General dis- 
the movements of the innumerable bands of restless barba- of the Empire 
rians who wandered about Europe during the fifth century, century. 
Scarcely any part of western Europe was left unmolested ; 
even Britain was conquered by German tribes, the Angles 
and Saxons. 

To add to the universal confusion caused by the influx of Attiia and 
the German tribes, the Huns, the Mongolian people who had 
first pushed the West Goths into the Empire, now began to fill 
western Europe with terror. Under their chief, Attiia, — " the 
scourge of God," as the trembling Romans called him, — the 
savage Huns invaded Gaul. But the Roman inhabitants and 
the Germans joined against the invaders and defeated them in 
the battle of Chalons, in 451. After this rebuff Attiia turned Battle of 
to Italy. But the impending danger was averted. Attiia was ^ *^^** 
induced by an embassy, headed by Pope Leo the Great, to 
give up his plan of marching upon Rome. Within a year he 
died and with him perished the power of the Huns, who never 
troubled Europe again. Their threatened invasion of Italy 
produced one permanent result however ; for it was then that 
fugitives from the cities of northeastern Italy fled to the sandy 
islets just off the Adriatic shore and founded the town which Founding 
was to grow into the beautiful and powerful city of Venice.^ 

10. The year 476 has commonly been taken as the date of The 'fail' of 
the " fall " of the Western Empire and of the beginning of the in the west. 
Middle Ages. What happened in that year was this. Since ^ 
Theodosius the Great, in 395, had provided that his two sons 
should divide the administration of the Empire between them, 
most of the emperors of the West had proved weak and 
indolent rulers. The barbarians wandered hither and thither * 

1 Reference, Emerton, Introduction to the Middle Ages, Chapter III. 

2 Reference, Emerton, Introduction, Chapter V. 


History of Western Europe 


and estab- 
lishes the 
kingdom of 
the East 
Goths in 

pretty much at their pleasure, and the German troops in the 
service of the Empire amused themselves setting up and throw- 
ing down puppet emperors. In 476 the German mercenaries 
in the Roman army demanded that a third part of Italy be 
given to them. On the refusal of this demand, Odoacer, 
their leader, banished the last of the western emperors (whose 
name was, by the irony of fate, Romulus Augustus the Little) 
to a villa near Naples. Then Odoacer sent the insignia of 
empire to the eastern emperor with the request that he be 
permitted to rule Italy as the emperor's delegate, thus putting 
an end to the line of the western emperors.^ 

It was not, however, given to Odoacer to establish an endur- 
ing German kingdom on Italian soil, for he was conquered 
by the great Theodoric, the king of the East Goths (or 
Ostrogoths). Theodoric had spent ten years of his early youth 
in Constantinople and had thus become familiar with Roman 
life. Since his return to his people he had been alter- 
nately a dangerous enemy and an embarrassing friend to the 
eastern emperor. The East Goths, under his leadership, had 
harassed and devastated various parts of the Eastern Empire, 
and had once threatened the capital itself. The emperor had 
repeatedly conciliated him by conferring upon him various 
honors and titles and by making large grants of money and 
land to his people. It must have been a great relief to the 
government when Theodoric determined to lead his people 
to Italy against Odoacer. *' If I fail," Theodoric said to the 
emperor, " you will be relieved of an expensive and trouble- 
some friend ; if, with the divine permission, I succeed, I shall 
govern in your name and to your glory, the Roman Senate and 
that part of the Empire delivered from slavery by my victorious 

The struggle between Theodoric and Odoacer lasted for 
several years, but Odoacer was finally shut up in Ravenna and 

1 Reference, Oman, Dark Ages^ Chapter I. 

TJie Germaii htvasions 


surrendered, only to be treacherously slain a few days later by 
Theodoric's own hand (493).^ 

The attitude of the East Goths toward the people already in The East 
possession of the land and toward the Roman culture is sig- fuiy! ^^ 
nificant. Theodoric put the name of the eastern emperor on 
the coins that he issued and did everything in his power to 
insure the emperor's approval of the new German kingdom. 

-^^rp^^^^-p— -^ 



Interior of a Church at Ravenna, built in Theodoric's Time 

Nevertheless, although he desired that the emperor should 
sanction his usurpation, Theodoric had no idea of being really 
subordinate to Constantinople. 

The invaders appropriated one third of the land for them- 
selves, but this was done with discretion and no disorder 
appears to have resulted. Theodoric maintained the Roman 
laws and institutions, which he greatly admired. The old 
offices and titles were retained, and Goth and Roman lived 

1 Reference, Oman, Dark Ages, Chapter II. 


History of Western Europe 

The East 
Goths were 
Arian here- 

The German 
kingdoms of 

under the same Roman law. Order was restored and learning 
encouraged. In Ravenna, which Theodoric chose for his 
capital, beautiful buildings that date from his reign still exist. 

On his death in 526, Theodoric left behind him an 
admirably organized state, but it had one conspicuous weak- 
ness. The Goths, although Christians, were unorthodox 
according to the standard of the Italian Christians. They 
had been converted by eastern missionaries, who taught them 
the Arian heresy earlier prevalent at Constantinople. This 
doctrine, which derived its name from Arius, a presbyter of 
Alexandria (d. 2>Z^)r had been condemned by the Council of 
Nicaea. The followers of Arius did not have the same con- 
ception of Christ's nature and of the relations of the three 
members of the Trinity as that sanctioned at Rome. The 
East Goths were, therefore, not only barbarians, — which might 
have been forgiven them, — but were guilty, in the eyes of 
the orthodox Italians, of the unpardonable offense of heresy. 
Theodoric himself was exceptionally tolerant for his times. His 
conviction that '' we cannot command in matters of religion 
because no one can be compelled to believe against his will," 
showed a spirit alien to the traditions of the Roman Empire and 
the Roman Church, which represented the orthodox belief. 

1 1 . While Theodoric had been establishing his kingdom in 
Italy with such enlightenment and moderation, what is now 
France was coming under the control of the most powerful of 
the barbarian peoples, the Franks, who were to play a more 
important role in the formation of modern Europe than any 
of the other German races. Besides the kingdoms of the 
East Goths and the Franks, the West Goths had their kingdom 
in Spain, the Burgundians had estabHshed themselves on the 
Rhone, and the Vandals in Africa. Royal alHances were con- 
cluded between the reigning houses of these nations, and for 
the first time in the history of Europe we see something like 
a family of nations, living each within its own boundaries and 

The German Invasions 


dealing with one another as independent powers. It seemed for 
a few years as if the process of assimilation between Germans 
and Romans was going to make rapid progress without 
involving any considerable period of disorder and retrogression. 

J) '160 260 300 400 


Map of Europe in the Time of Theodoric 

But no such good fortune was in store for Europe, which Extinction 
was now only at the beginning of the turmoil from which it literature, 
was to emerge almost completely barbarized. Science, art, and 
literature could find no foothold in the shifting political sands 
of the following centuries. Boethius,^ whom Theodoric put Boethius. 
to death (in 524 or 525) for alleged treasonable correspondence 

1 See above, p. ig. 


History of Western Etiropt 

and his 

Scarcely any 
writers in 
Europe dur- 
ing the sixth, 
seventh, and 
eighth cen- 

with the emperor, was the last Latin writer who can be com- 
pared in any way with the classical authors in his style and 
mastery of the language. He was a scholar as well as a poet, 
and his treatises on logic, music, etc., were highly esteemed 
by following generations. 

Theodoric's distinguished Roman counselor, Cassiodorus 
(d. 575), to whose letters we owe a great part of our knowledge 
of the period, busied himself in his old age in preparing text- 
books of the liberal arts and sciences, — grammar, arithmetic, 
logic, geometry, rhetoric, music, and astronomy. His manuals 
were intended to give the uninstructed priests a sufficient 
preparation for the study of the Bible and of the doctrines of 
the Church. His absurdly inadequate and, to us, silly treat- 
ment of these seven important subjects, to which he devotes 
a few pages each, enables us to estimate the low plane to 
which learning had fallen in Italy in the sixth century. Yet 
his books were regarded as standard treatises in these great 
fields of knowledge all through the Middle Ages. So mediaeval 
Europe owed these, and other text-books upon which she was 
dependent for her knowledge, to the period when Latin culture 
was coming to an end. 

A long period of gloom now begins. Between the time of 
Theodoric and that of Charlemagne three hundred years 
elapsed, during which scarcely a writer was to be found who 
could compose, even in the worst of Latin, a chronicle of the 
events of his day.^ Everything conspired to discourage educa- 
tion. The great centers of learning — Carthage, Rome, Alex- 
andria, Milan — were partially destroyed by the barbarians or 
the Arabs. The libraries which had been kept in the temples of 
the gods were often annihilated, along with the pagan shrines, 
by Christian enthusiasts, who were not sorry to see the heathen 
literature disappear with the heathen religion. Shortly after 
Theodoric's death the eastern emperor withdrew the support 

1 See Readings, Q,\\-A-\^iQx III (end), for historical writings of this period. 

The German hivasions 33 

which the government had hitherto granted to public teachers 
and closed the great school at Athens. The only important 
historian of the sixth century was the half-illiterate Gregory, 
Bishop of Tours (d. 594), whose whole work is unimpeachable 
evidence of the sad state of intellectual affairs. He at least 
heartily appreciated his own ignorance and exclaims, in incor- 
rect Latin, "Woe to our time, for the study of letters has 
perished from among us." 

12. The year after Theodoric's death one of the greatest Justinian 

., .,„,.., ^. , destroys the 

of the emperors of the East, Justmian (527-565), came to the kingdoms of 

_ • , 1 TT 1 , • r 1 the Vandals 

throne at Constantmople.^ He undertook to regam for the and the East 

Empire the provinces in Africa and Italy that had been occu- 
pied by the Vandals and East Goths. His general, Belisarius, 
overthrew the Vandal kingdom in northern Africa in 534, but 
it was a more difficult task to destroy the Gothic rule in Italy. 
However, in spite of a brave defense, the Goths were so com- 
pletely defeated in 553 that they agreed to leave Italy with all 
their movable possessions. What became of the remnants of 
the race we do not know. They had been too few to maintain 
their control over the mass of the Italians, who were ready, 
with a religious zeal which cost them dear, to open their gates 
to the hostile armies of Justinian. 

The destruction of the Gothic kingdom was a disaster for The Lom- 
bards occupy 
Italy. Immediately after the death of Justinian the country Italy. 

was overrun anew, by the Lombards, the last of the great Ger- 
man peoples to establish themselves within the bounds of the 
former Empire. They were a savage race, a considerable part 
of which was still pagan, and the Arian Christians among them 
appear to have been as hostile to the Roman Church as their 
unconverted fellows. The newcomers first occupied the region 
north of the Po, which has ever since been called Lombardy 
after them, and then extended their conquests southward. 

1 For Justinian, who scarcely comes into our story, see Oman, Dark Ages, 
Chapters V-VI. 


History of Western Europe 

The Franks; 
their impor- 
tance and 
their method 
of conquest. 

Instead of settling themselves with the moderation and wise 
statesmanship of the East Goths, the Lombards chose to 
move about the peninsula pillaging and massacring. Such of 
the inhabitants as could, fled to the islands off the coast. The 
Lombards were unable, however, to conquer all of Italy. 
Rome, Ravenna, and southern Italy continued to be held 
by the Greek empire. As time went on, the Lombards lost 
their wildness, accepted the orthodox form of Christianity, and 
gradually assimilated the civilization of the people among whom 
they lived. Their kingdom lasted over two hundred years, 
until it was overthrown by Charlemagne. 

13. None of the German peoples of whom we have so far 
spoken, except the Franks, ever succeeded in establishing a 
permanent kingdom. Their states were overthrown in turn by 
some other German nation, by the Eastern Empire, or, in the 
case of the West-Gothic kingdom in Spain, by the Mohamme- 
dans. The Franks, to whom we must now turn, were destined 
not only to conquer most of the other German tribes but even 
to extend their boundaries into districts inhabited by the Slavs. 

When the Franks are first heard of in history they were set- 
tled along the lower Rhine, from Cologne to the North Sea. 
Their method of getting a foothold in the Empire was essen- 
tially different from that which the Goths, Lombards, and 
Vandals had adopted. Instead of severing their connection 
with Germany and becoming an island in the sea of the Empire, 
they conquered by degrees the territory about them. However 
far they might extend their control, they remained in constant 
touch with the barbarian reserves behind them. In this way 
they retained the warlike vigor that was lost by the races who 
were completely surrounded by the enervating influences of 
Roman civilization. 

In the early part of the fifth century they had occupied the 
district which constitutes to-day the kingdom of Belgium, as 
well as the regions east of it. In 486, seven years before 

The German Invasions 


Theodoric founded his Italian kingdom, they went forth under 
their great king, Clovis (a name that later grew into Louis), 
and defeated the Roman general who opposed them. They 
extended their control over Gaul as far south as the Loire, 
which at that time formed the northern boundary of the king- 
dom of the West Goths. Clovis then 
enlarged his empire on the east by 
the conquest of the Alemanni, a 
German people living in the region 
of the Black Forest.^ 

The battle in which the Alemanni 
were defeated (496) is in one respect 
important above all the other battles 
of Clovis. Although still a pagan 
himself, his wife was an orthodox 
Christian convert. In the midst of 
the conflict, as he saw his line giving 
way, he called upon Jesus Christ and 
pledged himself to be baptized in 
His name if He would help the 
Franks to victory over their enemies. 
He kept his word and was baptized 
together with three thousand of his 
warriors. His conversion had the 
most momentous consequences for 
Europe. All the other German 

peoples within the Empire were Christians, but they were Conversion of 
all Arian heretics ; and to the orthodox Christians about and its con- 
them they seemed worse than heathen. This religious differ- 
ence had prevented the Germans and Romans from inter- 
marrying and had retarded their fusion in other ways. But 
with the conversion of Clovis, there was at least one barbarian 
leader with whom the Bishop of Rome could negotiate as with 
1 Reference, Oman, Dark Ages, Chapter IV. 

A Frankish Warrior 


History of Western Europe 

of Clovis. 

Character of 



a faithful son of the Church. It is from the orthodox Gregory 
of Tours that most of our knowledge of Clovis and his succes- 
sors is derived. In Gregory's famous History of the Franks ^ 
the cruel and unscrupulous king appears as God's chosen 
instrument for the extension of the Catholic faith. ^ Certainly 
Clovis quickly learned to combine his own interests with those 
of the Church, and the alliance between the pope and the 
Frankish kings was destined to have a great influence upon 
the history of western Europe. 

To the south of Clovis' new acquisitions in Gaul lay the 
kingdom of the Arian West Goths, to the southeast that of 
another heretical German people, the Burgundians. Gregory 
of Tours reports him as saying : " I cannot bear that these 
Arians should be in possession of a part of Gaul. Let us 
advance upon them with the aid of God ; after we have con- 
quered them let us bring their realms into our power." So 
zealous was the newly converted king that he speedily extended 
his power to the Pyrenees, and forced the West Goths to 
confine themselves to the Spanish portion of their realm. The 
Burgundians became a tributary nation and soon fell com- 
pletely under the rule of the Franks. Then Clovis, by a series of 
murders, brought portions of the Frankish nation itself, which 
had previously been independent of him, under his scepter. 

14. W^hen Clovis died in 5 1 1 at Paris, which he had made 
his residence, his four sons divided his possessions among them. 
Wars between rival brothers, interspersed with the most hor- 
rible murders, fill the annals of the Frankish kingdom for over 
a hundred years after the death of Clovis. Yet the nation con- 
tinued to develop in spite of the unscrupulous deeds of its 
rulers. It had no enemies strong enough to assail it, and a 
certain unity was preserved in spite of the ever-shifting distri- 
bution of territory among the members of the royal house. ^ 

1 See Readings^ Chapter III, for passages from Gregory of Tours, 

2 Reference, Emerton, hitrodtiction, 68-72. 

Western Europe before the Barbarian Invasions 19 

accepted the Gospel might look forward in the next world to 

such joy as he could never hope to experience in this. 

The new religion, as it spread from Palestine among the Christianity 

Gentiles, was much modified by the religious ideas of those ism tend to 

1 1 • * /- .—1 • • , -1 , -i merge into 

who accepted it. A group of Christian philosophers, who are one another. 

known as the early fathers, strove to show that the Gospel was 
in accord with the aspirations of the best of the pagans. In 
certain ceremonies the former modes of worship were accepted 
by the new religion. From simple beginnings the church devel- 
oped a distinct priesthood and an elaborate service. In this 
way Christianity and the higher forms of paganism tended to 
come nearer and nearer to each other as time went on. In one 
sense, it is true, they met like two armies in mortal conflict ; but 
at the same time they tended to merge into one another like two 
streams which had been following converging courses. At the 
confluence of the streams stands Boethius (d. about 524), the Boethius 
most gifted of the later Roman writers. His beautiful book, 
The Consolation of Philosophy, was one of the most popular 
works during the Middle Ages, when every one believed that 
its author was a Christian.^ Yet there is nothing in the book 
to indicate that he was more than a rehgious pagan, and some 
scholars doubt if he ever fully accepted the new religion. 

7. We learn from the letters of St. Paul that the earliest Theprimi- 
/-,,.. . . - , . , . tive, orapos- 

Christian communities found it necessary to have some organi- toiic, church. 

zation. They chose certain oflicers, the bishops — that is to 

say, overseers — and the presbyters or elders, but St. Paul does 

not tell us exactly what were the duties of these officers. 

There were also the deacons, who appear to have had the care 

of the poor of the community. The first Christians looked for 

the speedy coming of Christ before their own generation 

should pass away. Since all were filled with enthusiasm for 

the Gospel and eagerly awaited the last day, they did not feel 

the need of an elaborate constitution. But as time went on 

1 There is an English translation of this published by Stock (|i.2o). 


History of Western Europe 

The ' Catho- 
lic J ' or 

of the Church 
before Con- 

the Christian communities greatly increased in size, and many 
joined them who had Httle or none of the original fervor and 
spirituality. It became necessary to develop a regular system 
of church government in order to control the erring and expel 
those who brought disgrace upon their religion by notoriously 
bad conduct. 

A famous little book, The U?iity of the Church, by Bishop 
Cyprian (d. 258) gives us a pretty good idea of the Church 
a few decades before the Christian religion was legalized 
by Constantine. This and other sources indicate that the 
followers of Christ had already come to believe in a " Cath- 
olic " — i.e., a universal — Church which embraced all the 
communities of true believers wherever they might be. To 
this one universal Church all must belong who hoped to 
be saved. ^ 

A sharp distinction was already made between the officers 
of the Church, who were called the clergy, and the people, or 
laity. To the clergy was committed the government of the 
Church as well as the instruction of its members. In each of 
the Roman cities was a bishop, and at the head of the country 
communities, a priest (Latin, presbyter), who had succeeded to 
the original elders (presbyters) mentioned in the New Testa- 
ment. Below the bishop and the priest were the lower orders 
of the clergy, — the deacon and subdeacon, — and below these 
the so-called minor orders — the acolyte, exorcist, reader, and 
doorkeeper. The bishop exercised a certain control over the 
priests within his territory. It was not unnatural that the 
bishops in the chief towns of the Roman provinces should be 
especially influential in church affairs. They came to be 

1 Whoever separates himself from the Church, writes Cyprian, is separated from 
the promises of the Church, " He is an alien, he is profane, he is an enemy, he 
can no longer have God for his father who has not the Church for his mother. 
If anyone could escape who was outside the Ark of Noah, so also may he escape 
who shall be outside the bounds of the Church," See Readings in European 
History, Chapter II, 

TJie German Invasions 


The Frankish kings succeeded in extending their power 
over pretty nearly all the territory that is included to-day in 
France, Belgium, and the Netherlands, as well as over a goodly 
portion of western Germany. By 555, when Bavaria had 
become tributary to the Frankish rulers, their dominions 
extended from the Bay of Biscay to a point east of Salzburg. 

Extent of the 
kingdoms in 
the sixth 

The Dominions of the Franks under the Merovingians 

Considerable districts that the Romans had never succeeded 
in conquering had been brought into the developing civiliza- 
tion of western Europe. 

As a result of the divisions of the Frankish lands, fifty years 
after the death of Clovis three Frankish kingdoms appear on 
the map. Neustria, the western kingdom, with its center at 
Paris or Soissons, was inhabited mainly by the older Romanized 
people among whom the Franks had settled. To the east was 

Division of 
the Frankish 
territory into 
and Bur- 


History of Western Europe 

The Prankish 

The Mayors 
of the Palace. 

of the power 
of Charle- 
family, the 

Austrasia, with Metz and Aix-la-Chapelle as its chief cities. 
This region was completely German in its population. In these 
two there was the prophecy of the future France and Germany. 
Lastly, there was the old Burgundian realm. Of the Mero- 
vingian kings, as the Hne descended from Clovis was called, 
the last to rule as well as reign was Dagobert (d. 638), who 
united the whole Frankish territory once more under his 

A new danger, however, threatened the unity of the Frank- 
ish kingdom, namely, the aspirations of the powerful nobles. 
In the earhest accounts which we have of the Germans there 
appear to have been certain families who enjoyed a recognized 
preeminence over their companions. In the course of the 
various conquests there was a chance for the skillful leader 
to raise himself in the favor of the king. It was only natural 
that those upon whom the. king relied to control distant 
parts of the realm should become dangerously ambitious and 

Among the positions held by the nobility none was reputed 
more honorable than those near the king's person. Of these 
offices the most influential was that of the Major Domus, or 
Mayor of the Palace, who was a species of prime minister. 
After Dagobert' s death these mayors practically ruled in 
the place 0/ the Merovingian monarchs, who became mere 
" do-nothing kings," — rois faineants, as the French call 
them. The Austrasian Mayor of the Palace, Pippin of 
Heristal, the great-grandfather of Charlemagne, succeeded 
in getting, in addition to Austrasia, both Neustria and Bur- 
gundy under his control. In this way he laid the foundation 
of his family's renown. Upon his death, in 714, his task of 
consolidating and defending the vast territories of the Franks 
devolved upon his more distinguished son, Charles Martel, 
i.e., the Hammer.^ 

1 Reference, Oman, Dark Ages, Chapter XV. 

TJie Gei'jfian Invasions 39 

15. As one looks back over the German invasions it is Fusion of the 

natural to ask upon what terms the newcomers lived among and the 

the old inhabitants of the Empire, how far they adopted the latSn^^^^^' 

customs of those among whom they settled, and how far they 

clung to their old habits ? These questions cannot be answered 

very satisfactorily ; so little is known of the confused period of 

which we have been speaking that it is impossible to follow 

closely the amalgamation of the two races. 

Yet a few things are tolerably clear. In the first place, we The number 
, . . , \ . ofthe 

must be on our guard against exaggeratmg the numbers m barbarians. 

the various bodies of invaders. The writers of the time indi- 
cate that the West Goths, when they were first admitted to the 
Empire before the battle of Adrianople, amounted to four or 
five hundred thousand persons, including men, women, and 
children. This is the largest band reported, and it must have 
been greatly reduced before the West Goths, after long wander- 
ings and many battles, finally settled in Spain and southern 
Gaul. The Burgundians, when they appear for the first time 
on the banks of the Rhine, are reported to have had eighty 
thousand warriors among them. When Clovis and his army 
were baptized the chronicler speaks of " over three thousand " 
soldiers who became Christians upon that occasion. This 
would seem to indicate that the Frankish king had no larger 
force at this time. 

Undoubtedly these figures are very meager and unreliable. 
But the readiness with which the Germans appear to have 
adopted the language and customs of the Romans would tend 
to prove that the invaders formed but a small minority of the 
population. Since hundreds of thousands of barbarians had 
been assimilated during the previous five centuries, the great 
invasions of the fifth century can hardly have made an abrupt 
change in the character of the population. 

The barbarians within the old empire were soon speaking contrast be- 
1 • 1 X • 1 • 1 1 J T. tween spoken 

the same conversational Latin which was everywhere used by and written 


40 History of Western Europe 

the Romans about them.^ This was much simpler than the 
elaborate and complicated language used in books, which we 
find so much difficulty in learning nowadays. The speech of 
the common people was gradually diverging more and more, 
in the various countries of southern Europe, from the written 
Latin, and finally grew into French, Spanish, Italian, and Por- 
tuguese. But the barbarians did not produce this change, for 
it had begun before they came and would have gone on with- 
out them. They did no more than contribute a few convenient 
words to the new languages. 

The Germans appear to have had no dislike for the Romans 
nor the Romans for them, except as long as the Germans 
remained Arian Christians. Where there was no religious 
barrier the two races intermarried freely from the first. The 
Frankish kings did not hesitate to appoint Romans to important 
positions in the government and in the army, just as the 
Romans had long been in the habit of employing the barbarians. 
In only one respect were the two races distinguished for a 
time, — each had its particular law. 
The Roman The West Goths in the time of Euric were probably the 

German law. first to write down their ancient laws, using the Latin language. 
Their example was followed by the Franks, the Burgundians, and 
later by the Lombards and other peoples. These codes make up 
the "Laws of the Barbarians," which form our most important 
source of knowledge of the habits and ideas of the Germans 
at the time of the invasions.^ For several centuries following 
the conquest, the members of the various German tribes appear 
to have been judged by the laws of the particular people to 

1 The northern Franks, who did not penetrate far into the Empire, and the 
Germans who remained in Germany proper and in Scandinavia, had of course 
no reason for giving up their native tongues ; the Angles and Saxons in Britain 
also adhered to theirs. These Germanic languages in time became Dutch, English, 
German, Danish, Swedish, etc. Of this matter something will be said later. 
See below, § 97. 

2 Extracts from the laws of the Salian Franks may be found in Henderson's 
Historical Dociiments^ pp. 176-189. 

The Gennan Invasions 41 

which they belonge<5. The older inhabitants of the Empire, 
on the contrary, continued to have their lawsuits decided 
according to the Roman law. This survived all through the 
Middle Ages in southern Europe, where the Germans were few. 
Elsewhere the Germans' more primitive ideas of law prevailed 
until the thirteenth or fourteenth century. A good example of 
these is the picturesque mediaeval ordeal by which the guilt or 
innocence of a suspected person was determined. 

The German laws did not provide for the trial, either in the Mediaeval 
Roman or the modern sense of the word, of a suspected person. 
There was no attempt to gather and weigh evidence and base 
the decision upon it. Such a mode of procedure was far too 
elaborate for the simple-minded Germans. Instead of a regu- 
lar triai, one of the parties to the case was designated to prove 
that his assertions were true by one of the following methods : 
(i) He might solemnly swear that he was telling the truth and 
get as many other persons of his own class as the court required, 
to swear that they believed that he was telling the truth. This 
was called compurgation. It was believed that the divine ven- 
geance would be visited upon those who swore falsely. (2) On 
the other hand, the parties to the case, or persons representing 
them, might meet in combat, on the supposition that Heaven 
would grant victory to the right. This was the so-called wager of 
battle. (3) Lastly, one or other of the parties might be required 
to submit to the ordeal in one of its various forms : He might 
plunge his arm into hot water, or carry a bit of hot iron for some 
distance, and if at the end of three days he showed no ill effects, 
the case was decided in his favor. He might be ordered to walk 
over hot plowshares, and if he was not burned, it was assumed 
that God had intervened by a miracle to establish the right. ^ 

1 Professor Emerton gives an excellent account of the Germanic ideas of law 
in his Introduction^ pp. 73-91 ; see also Henderson, Short History of Germany, 
pp. 19-21. For examples of the trials, see Translations and Reprints, Vol. IV, 
No. 4. A philosophical account of the character of the Germans and of the effects 
of the invasions is given by Adams, Mediceval Civilization, Chapters IV-V. 

42 History of Western Europe 

This method of trial is but one example of the rude civilization 
which displaced the refined and elaborate organization of the 
The task of i6. The account which has been given of the conditions in 

Ages. the Roman Empire> and of the manner in which the barba- 

rians occupied its western part, makes clear the great problem 
of the Middle Ages. The Germans, no doubt, varied a good 
deal in their habits and spirit. The Goths differed from the 
Lombards, and the Franks from the Vandals; but they all 
agreed in knowing nothing of the art, literature, and science 
which had been developed by the Greeks and adopted by the 
Romans. The invaders were ignorant, simple, vigorous people, 
with no taste for anything except fighting and bodily com- 
fort. Such was the disorder that their coming produced, that 
the decHning civilization of the Empire was pretty nearly 
submerged. The libraries, buildings, and works of art were 
destroyed and there was no one to see that they were restored. 
So the western world fell back into a condition similar to 
that in which it had been before the Romans conquered and 
civilized it.-^ 

The loss was, however, temporary. The barbarians did not 
utterly destroy what they found, but utilized the ruins of the 
Roman Empire in their gradual construction of a new society. 
They received suggestions from the Roman methods of agri- 
culture. When they reached a point where they needed 
them, they used the models offered by Roman roads and 
buildings. In short, the great heritage of skill and invention 
which had been slowly accumulated in Egypt, Phoenicia, and 
Greece, and which formed a part of the culture which the 
Romans diffused, did not wholly perish. 

1 Tacitus' Gennania, which is our chief source for the German customs, is 
to be found in Translatiojis and Reprints, Vol. VI, No. 3. For the habits of 
the invading Germans, see Henderson, Short History of Germany, pp. i-ii ; 
Hodgkin, Dynasty of Theodosius, last half of Chapter II. 

The German Invasions 43 

It required about a thousand years to educate the new Loss caused 
race ; but at last Europe, including districts never embraced ing oMhe"' 
in the Roman Empire, caught up once more with antiquity, regained 
When, in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, first Italy, MiddilAges. 
and then the rest of Europe, awoke again to the beauty and 
truth of the classical Hterature and began to emulate the 
ancient art, the process of educating the barbarians may be 
said to have been completed. Yet the Middle Ages had been 
by no means a sterile period. They had added their part to 
the heritage of the West. From the union of two great 
elements, the ancient civilization, which was completely revived 
at the opening of the sixteenth century, and the vigor and the 
political and social ideals of the Germans, a new thing was 
formed, namely, our modern civilization. 

General Reading. — By far the most exhaustive work in English upon 
the German invasions is Hodgkin, Italy and her Invaders^ — very bulky 
and costly (8 vols., ^36.50). The author has, however, given some of 
the results of his work in his excellent Dytiasty of Theodosius (Clarendon 
Press, ^1.50), and his Theodoric the Goth (G. P. Putnam's Sons, ^1.50). 
Sergeant, The Frajiks (G. P. Putnam's Sons, ^1.50), gives more than 
is to be found on the subject in either Emerton or Oman. 



The great- 1 7, While the Franks were slowly developing the strength 

Church. which Charlemagne employed to found the most extensive 

realm that has existed in Europe since the Roman Empire, 
another government, whose power was far greater, whose 
organization was far more perfect, and whose vitality was 
infinitely superior to that of the Frankish empire, namely, the 
Christian Church, was steadily extending its sway and estab- 
lishing the foundations of its later supremacy. 

We have already seen how marvelously the Christian com- 
munities founded by the apostles and their fellow-missionaries 
multiplied until, by the middle of the third century, writers like 
Cyprian came to conceive of a " Catholic," or ail-embracing. 
Church. We have seen how Constantine first made Christianity 
legal, and how his .successors worked in the interest of the 
new religion ; how carefully the Theodosian Code safeguarded 
the Church and the Christian clergy, and how harshly those 
were treated who ventured to hold another view of Christianity 
from that sanctioned by the government.^ 

We must now follow this most powerful and permanent of 
all the institutions of the later Roman Empire into the Middle 
Ages. We must stop a moment to consider the sources of its 
power, and then see how the Western, or Latin, portion of 
Christendom fell apart from the Eastern, or Greek, region and 
came to form a separate institution under the longest and 
mightiest line of rulers that the world has ever seen, the 
1 See above, § 7. 

The Rise of the Papacy 45 

Roman bishops. We shall see how a peculiar class of Chris- 
tians, the monks, developed ; how they joined hands with the 
clergy ; how the monks and the clergy met the barbarians, 
subdued and civilized them, and then ruled them for centuries. 

The tremendous power of the Church in the Middle Ages Sources of 
was due, we may be sure, to the way in which it adapted itself power, 
to the ideas and needs of the time ; for no institution can 
flourish unless it meets the wants of those who live under it. 

One great source of the Church's strength lay in the general Contrast 
fear of death and judgment to come, which Christianity had pagan and 
brought with it. The Greeks and Romans of the classical period ideas, 
thought of the next hfe, when they thought of it at all, as a 
very uninteresting existence compared with that on this earth. 
One who committed some signal crime might suffer for it after 
death with pains similar to those of the hell in which the 
Christians believed. But the great part of humanity were sup- 
posed to lead in the next world a shadowy existence, neither 
sad nor glad. Religion, even to the devout pagan, was mainly 
an affair of this Hfe ; the gods were to be propitiated with a 
view to present happiness and success. 

Since no satisfaction could be expected in the next life, it 
was naturally deemed wise to make the most of this one. The 
possibility of pleasure ends — so the poet Horace urges — when 
we join the shades below, as we all must do soon. Let us, there- 
fore, take advantage of every harmless pleasure and improve 
our brief opportunity to enjoy the good things of earth. We 
should, however, be reasonable and temperate, avoiding all 
excess, for that endangers happiness. Above all, we should 
not worry uselessly about the future, which is in the hands of 
the gods and beyond our control. Such were the convictions 
of the majority of thoughtful pagans. 

Christianity opposed this view of life with an entirely dif- other-worid- 

_ , , . , . liness of 

ferent one. It laid persistent emphasis upon man s existence mediaeval 

, , ,.,.,, , . ^ . , . , Christianityo 

after death, which it declared infinitely more important than 

46 History of Western Etirope 

his brief sojourn in the body. Under the influence of the 
Church this conception of Hfe had gradually supplanted 
the pagan one in the Roman world, and it was taught to the 
barbarians. The other-world liness became so intense that 
thousands gave up their ordinary occupations and pleasures 
altogether, and devoted their entire attention to preparation 
for the next life. They shut themselves in lonely cells; 
and, not satisfied with giving up most of their natural pleas- 
ures, they inflicted bodily suffering upon themselves by hunger, 
cold, and stripe's. They trusted that in this way they might 
avoid some of the sins into which they were prone to fall, 
and that, by self-inflicted punishment in this world, they might 
perchance escape some of that reserved for then- in the next. 
As most of the writers and teachers of the Middle Ages 
belonged to this class of what may be called professional 
Christians, i.e., the monks, it was natural that their kind of life 
should have been regarded, even by those who continued to 
live in the world, as the ideal one for the earnest Christian. 
The Church The barbarians were taught that their fate in the next world 

of salvation, depended largely upon the Church. Its ministers never 
wearied of presenting the momentous alternative which faced 
every man so soon as this fleeting earthly existence should be 
over, — the alternative between eternal bliss and perpetual, 
unspeakable physical torment. Only those who had been duly 
baptized could hope to reach heaven ; but baptism washed 
away only past sins and did not prevent constant relapse 
into new ones. These, unless their guilt was removed through 
the instrumentality of the Church, would surely drag the soul 
down to perdition. 

Miracles a The divine power of the Church was, furthermore, estab- 

source of , . 

the Church's lished in the eyes of the people by the miraculous works which 


her saints were constantly performing. They healed the sick 

and succored those in distress. They struck down with speedy 

and signal disaster those who opposed the Church or treated 

TJie Rise of the Papacy 47 

her holy rites with contempt. To the reader of to-day the 
frequency of the miracles recorded in mediaeval writings seems 
astonishing. The chronicles and biographies are filled with 
accounts of them, and no one appears to have doubted their 
common occurrence.-^ 

18. The chief importance of the Church for the student of The church 
mediaeval history does not lie, however, in its religious func- Roman 
tions, vital as they were, but rather in its remarkable relations 
to the civil government. At first the Church and the imperial 
government were on a friendly footing of mutual respect and 
support. So long as the Roman Empire remained strong and 
active there was no chance for the clergy to free themselves 
from the control of the emperor, even if they had been dis- 
posed to do so. He made such laws for the Church as he saw 
fit and the clergy did not complain. The government was, 
indeed, indispensable to them. It undertook to root out 
paganism by destroying the heathen shrines and preventing 
heathen sacrifices, and it harshly punished those who refused 
to accept the teachings sanctioned by the Church. 

But as the barbarians came in and the great Empire began to The church 

begins to 

fall apart, there was a growmg tendency among the churchmen seek inde- 
in the West to resent the interference of rulers whom they no 
longer respected. They managed gradually to free themselves 
in large part from the control of the civil government. They 
then proceeded themselves to assume many of the duties of 
government, which the weak and disorderly states into which the 
Roman Empire fell were unable to perform properly. In 502, 
a church council at Rome declared a decree of Odoacer's null 
and void, on the ground that no layman had a right to interfere 
in the affairs of the Church. One of the bishops of Rome 
(Pope Gelasius I, d. 496) briefly stated the principle upon 
which the Church rested its claims, as follows : " Two powers 
govern the world, the priestly and the kingly. The first is 

1 For reports of miracles, see Readings, especially Chapters V and XVI, 


History of Western Europe 

The Church 
begins to 
perform the 
functions of 

indisputably the superior, for the priest is responsible to God 
for the conduct of even the emperors themselves." Since 
no one denied that the eternal interests of mankind, which 
devolved upon the Church, were infinitely more important than 
those matters of mere worldly expediency which the state 
regulated, it was natural for the clergy to hold that, in case of 
conflict, the Church and its officers, rather than the king, 
should have the last word. 

It was one thing, however, for the Church to claim the right 
to regulate its own affairs ; it was quite another for it to assume 
the functions which the Roman government had previously 
performed and which our governments perform to-day, such 
as the maintenance of order, the management of public 
education, the trial of lawsuits, etc. It did not, however, 
exactly usurp the prerogatives of the civil power, but rather 
offered itself as a substitute for it when no efficient civil gov- 
ernment any longer existed. For there were no states, in the 
modern sense of the word, in western Europe for many cen- 
turies after the final destruction of the Roman Empire. The 
authority of the various kings was seldom sufficient to keep 
their realms in order. There were always many powerful 
landholders scattered throughout the kingdom who did pretty 
much what they pleased and settled their grudges against their 
fellows by neighborhood wars. Fighting was the main busi- 
ness as well as the chief amusement of the noble class. The 
king was unable to maintain peace and protect the oppressed, 
however anxious he may have been to do so. 

Under these circumstances, it naturally fell to the admirably 
organized Church to keep order, when it could, by threats or 
persuasion ; to see that sworn contracts were kept, that the 
wills of the dead were administered, and marriage obligations 
observed. It took the defenseless widow and orphan under 
its protection and dispensed charity; it promoted education 
at a time when few laymen, however rich and noble, pretended 

TJie Rise of the Papacy 49 

even to read. These conditions serve to explain why the 
Church was finally able greatly to extend the powers which 
it had enjoyed under the Roman Empire, and why it under- 
took functions which seem to us to belong to the state rather 
than to a religious organization. 

19. We must now turn to a consideration of the origin and Origin of 

^ r ^ r ^ i i • • i papal pOWM. 

growth of the supremacy 01 the popes, who, by raismg them- 
selves to the head of the Western Church, became in many 
respects more powerful than any of the kings and princes with 
whom they frequently found themselves in bitter conflict. 

While we cannot discover, either in the Acts of the Council Prestige of 
. . . the Roman 

of Nicgea or m the Iheodosian Code, compiled more than a Christian 

century later, any recognition of the supreme headship of the 

Bishop of Rome, there is httle doubt that he and his flock 

had almost from the very first enjoyed a leading place among 

the Christian communities. The Roman Church was the only 

one in the West which could claim the distinction of having 

been founded by the immediate followers of Christ, — the '' two 

most glorious apostles." 

The New Testament speaks repeatedly of Paul's presence in Belief that 

Peter was 
Rome, and Peter's is implied. There had always been, moreover, the first 

a persistent tradition, accepted throughout the Christian Church, Rome. 

that Peter was the first Bishop of Rome. While there is no 

complete historic proof for this behef, it appears to have been 

generally accepted at least as early as the middle of the second 

century. There is, certainly, no conflicting tradition, no rival 

claimant. The belief itself, whether or not it corresponds with 

actual events, is indubitably a fact, and a fact of the greatest 

historical importance. Peter enjoyed a certain preeminence 

among the other apostles and was singled out by Christ upon 

several occasions. In a passage of the New Testament which 

has affected political history more profoundly than the edicts 

of the most powerful monarch, Christ says : " And I say also 

unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build 


History of Western Eiirope 

The Roman 
Church the 

of early 
bishops of 

Period of the 



my church ; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. 
And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven : 
and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in 
heaven : and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be 
loosed in heaven!" ^ 

It was thus natural that the Roman Church should early 
have been looked upon as the mother church in the West. 
Its doctrines were considered the purest, since they had been 
handed down from its exalted founders. When there was 
a difference of opinion in regard to the truth of a particular 
teaching, it was natural that all should turn to the Bishop of 
Rome for his view. Moreover, the majesty of the capital 
of the world helped to exalt its bishop above his fellows. It 
was long, however, before all the other bishops, especially those 
in the large cities, were ready to accept unconditionally the 
authority of the Bishop of Rome, although they acknowledged 
his leading position and that of the Roman community. 

We know comparatively little of the bishops of Rome during 
the first three centuries of the Church's existence. Even as 
the undisputed heads of their persecuted sect, they could not 
have begun to exercise the political influence which they later 
enjoyed, until Christianity had gained the ascendancy and the 
power of the Empire had become greatly weakened. 

We are, however, much better instructed in regard to the 
Church of the fourth and early fifth centuries, because the 
century following the Council of Nicaea was, in the history of 
church literature, what the Elizabethan era was in that of 
England. It was the era of the great "fathers" of Christian 
theology, to whom all theologians since have looked back as to 
the foremost interpreters of their religion. Among the chief 
of these were Athanasius (d. 373), to whom is attributed the 

1 Matt. xvi. 18-19. Two other passages in the New Testament were held to 
substantiate the divinely ordained headship of Peter and his successors : Luke 
xxii. 32, where Christ says to Peter, " StabUsh thy brethren," and John xxi. 
J5-17, where Jesus said to him, " Feed my sheep." See Readings^ Chapter IV. 

The Rise of the Papacy 5 ^ 

formulation of the creed of the Orthodox Church as opposed 
to the Arians, against whom he waged unremitting war; 
Basil (d. 379), the promoter of the monastic life; Ambrose, 
Bishop of Milan (d. 397) ; Jerome (d. 420), who prepared a 
new Latin version of the Scriptures, which became the stand- 
ard (Vulgate) edition; and, above all, Augustine (354-430), 
whose voluminous writings have exercised an unrivaled influ- 
ence upon the minds of Christian thinkers since his day. 

Since the church fathers were chiefly interested in matters 
of doctrine, they say little of the organization of the Church, 
and it is not clear from their writings that the Bishop of Rome 
was accorded as yet the supreme and dominating position which 
the popes later enjoyed. Nevertheless, Augustine calls a con- 
temporaneous Bishop of Rome the "head of the Western 
Church," and almost immediately after his death one ascended 
the episcopal chair at Rome whose ambition, energy, and per- 
sonal bravery were a promise of those qualities which were to 
render his successors the kings of kings. 

With the accession of Leo the Great (440-461) the history Leo the 

^ ^ / -' Great, 440- 

of the papacy may, in one sense, be said to have begun. At 461. 

his instance, Valentinian III, the emperor of the West, 

issued a decree in 445 declaring the power of the Bishop of 

Rome supreme, by reason of Peter's merits and apostolic 

headship, and by reason of the majesty of the city of Rome. 

He commanded that the bishops throughout the West should Decree of 

^ -111 Valentinian 

receive as law all that the Bishop of Rome sanctioned, and that iii. 

any bishop refusing to answer a summons to Rome should be 

forced to obey by the imperial governor. But a council at 

Chalcedon, six years later, raised new Rome on the Bosphorus 

(Constantinople) to an ecclesiastical equality with old Rome 

on the Tiber. The bishops of both cities were to have a 

co-superiority over all the other prelates. This decree was, 

however, never accepted in the Western or Latin Church, 

which was gradually departing from the Eastern or Greek 


Histoiy of Western Europe 

Duties that 
upon the 
early popes. 

Gregory the 
Great, 590- 

Church whose natural head was Constantinople.^ Although 
the powers to which Leo laid claim were not as yet even 
clearly stated and there were times of adversity to come when 
for years they appeared an empty boast, still his emphatic 
assertion of the supremacy of the Roman bishop was a great 
step toward bringing the Western Church under a single head. 

Not long after the death of Leo the Great, Odoacer put an 
end to the western line of emperors. Then Theodoric and his 
East Goths settled in Italy, only to be followed by still less 
desirable intruders, the Lombards. During this tumultuous 
period the people of Rome, and even of all Italy, came to regard 
the pope as their natural leader. The emperor was far away, 
and his officers, who managed to hold a portion of central Italy 
around Rome and Ravenna, were glad to accept the aid and 
counsel of the pope. In Rome the pope watched over the 
elections of the city officials and directed in what manner the 
public money should be spent. He had to manage and defend 
the great tracts of land in different parts of Italy which from 
time to time had been given to the bishopric of Rome. He 
negotiated with the Germans and even directed the generals 
sent against them. 

20. The pontificate of Gregory the Great, one of the half 
dozen most distinguished heads that the Church has ever had, 
shows how great a part the papacy could play. Gregory, who 
was the son of a rich Roman senator, was appointed by the 
emperor to the honorable office of prefect. He began to fear, 
however, that his proud position and fine clothes were making 

1 The name pope (Latin, papa = father) was originally and quite naturally 
applied to all bishops, and even to priests. It began to be especially applied to the 
bishops of Rome perhaps as early as the sixth century, but was not apparently 
confined to them until two or three hundred years later. Gregory VII (d. 1085) 
was the first to declare explicitly that the title should be used only for the Bishop 
of Rome. We shall, however, hereafter refer to the Roman bishop as pope, 
although it must not be forgotten that his headship of the Western Church did 
not for some centuries imply the absolute power that he came later to exercise 
over all the other bishops of western Europe. 

The Rise of the Papacy 53 

him vain and worldly. His pious mother and his study of 
the writings of Augustine, Jerome, and Ambrose led him, upon 
the death of his father, to spend all his handsome fortune in 
founding seven monasteries. One of these he established in his 
own house and subjected himself to such severe discipline and 
deprivations that his health never entirely recovered from them. 
He might, in his enthusiasm for monasticism, have brought 
himself to an early grave if the pope had not commanded him 
to undertake a difficult mission to Constantinople ; there he had 
his first opportunity to show his great abiHty in conducting 
delicate negotiations. 

When Gregory was chosen pope (in 590) and most reluctantly Ancient 
left his monastery, ancient Rome, the capital of the Empire, becomes 
was already transforming itself into mediaeval Rome, the capital Rome, 
of Christendom. The temples of the gods had furnished mate- 
rials for the many Christian churches. The tombs of the 
apostles Peter and Paul were soon to become the center of 
religious attraction and the goal of pilgrimages from every part 
of western Europe. Just as Gregory assumed office a great 
plague was raging in the city. In true mediaeval fashion, he 
arranged a solemn procession in order to obtain from heaven a 
cessation of the pest. Then the archangel Michael was seen 
over the tomb of Hadrian^ sheathing his fiery sword as a sign 
that the wrath of the Lord had been turned away. With 
Gregory we leave behind us the history of the Rome of Caesar 
and Trajan and enter upon that of Innocent HI and Leo X. 

Gregory enjoyed an unrivaled reputation during the Middle Gregory' 
Ages as a writer. He is reckoned with Augustine, Ambrose, 
and Jerome as one of the four great Latin " fathers " of the 
Church. His works show, however, how much less cultivated 
his period was than that of his predecessors. His most popular 
book was his Dialogues, a collection of accounts of miracles 

1 The great circular tomb was later converted into the chief fortress of the popes 
and called, from the event just mentioned, the Castle of the Angel (San Angelo). 



History of Western Eur opt 

Gregory as 
a statesman. 

and popular legends. It is hard to believe that it could have 
been composed by the greatest man of the time and that it 
was designed for adults. In his commentary on Job, Gregory 
warns the reader that he need not be surprised to find mistakes 
in grammar, since in dealing with so high a theme a writer 
should not stop to make sure whether his cases and tenses are 

Gregory's letters show clearly what the' papacy was coming 
to mean for Europe when in the hands of a really great man. 

The Castle San Angelo, formerly the Tomb of the Emperor Hadrian 

While he assumed the humble title of " Servant of the servants 
of God," which the popes still use, Gregory was a statesman 
whose influence extended far and wide. It devolved upon him 
to govern the city of Rome, — as it did upon his successors 
down to the year 1870, — for the eastern emperor's control had 
become merely nominal. He had also to keep the Lombards 

1 For extracts from Gregory's writings, see Readings, Chapter IV. 


The Rise of the Papacy 5 5 

out of central Italy, which they failed to conquer largely on 
account of the valiant defense of the popes. These duties were 
functions of the civil power, and in assuming them Gregory may 
be said to have founded the temporal power of the popes. 

Beyond the borders of Italy, Gregory was in constant com- Gregpry's 
munication with the emperor, with the rulers of Austrasia, undertak-^ 
Neustria, and Burgundy. Everywhere he used his influence to 
have good clergymen chosen as bishops, and everywhere he 
watched over the interests of the monasteries. But his chief 
importance in the history of the papacy is attributable to the 
missionary enterprises which he undertook, through which the 
great countries which were one day to be called England, 
France, and Germany were brought under the sway of the 
Roman Church and its head, the pope. 

Gregory was, as we have seen, an enthusiastic monk, and 
he naturally relied chiefly upon the monks in his great work of 
converting the heathen. Consequently, before considering his 
missionary achievements, we must glance at the origin and 
character of the monks, who are so conspicuous throughout 
the Middle Ages. 

General References. — There is no satisfactory history of the medi- 
aeval Church in one volume. Perhaps the best short account in English 
is Fisher, History of the Christian Church (Charles Scribner's Sons, 
I3.50). MoELLER, History of the Christian Church, Vols. I-II (Swan 
Sonnenschein, ^4.00 a vol.), is a dry but very reliable manual with full 
references to the literature of the subject. Alzog, Manual of Univer- 
sal Church History (Clarke, Cincinnati, 3 vols., ^10.00), is a careful 
presentation by a Catholic scholar. Milman, History of Latin Chris- 
tianity, although rather old, is both scholarly and readable, and is to be 
found in most libraries. Gieseler, Ecclesiastical History (5 vols., now 
out of print, but not difficult to obtain), is really a great collection of the 
most interesting extracts from the sources, with very little indeed from 
the author's hand. This and Moeller are invaluable to the advanced 
student. Hatch, Growth of Church Institutions (Whittaker, ^1.50), 
gives an admirably simple account of the most important phases of the 
organization of the Church. 



Importance of 
the monks 
as a class. 

appealed to 
many differ- 
ent classes. 

21. It would be difficult to overestimate the variety and 
extent of the influence that the monks exercised for centuries 
in Europe. The proud annals of the Benedictines, Francis- 
cans, Dominicans, and Jesuits contain many a distinguished 
name. The most eminent philosophers, scientists, historians, 
artists, poets, and statesmen may be found among their ranks. 
Among those whose achievements we shall study later are The 
Venerable Bede, Boniface, Abelard, Thomas Aquinas, Rogei' 
Bacon, Fra Angelico, Savonarola, Luther, Erasmus, — ail these, 
and many others who have been leaders in various branches 
of human activity, were monks. 

The strength of monasticism lay in its appeal to many dif- 
ferent classes of persons. The world became a less attractive 
place as the successive invasions of the barbarians brought 
ever-increasing disorder. The monastery was the natural 
refuge not only of the spiritually minded, but of those of a 
studious or contemplative disposition who disliked the life of 
a soldier and were disinclined to face the dangers and uncer- 
tainties of the times. The monastic life was safe and peace- 
ful, as well as holy. Even the rude and unscrupulous warriors 
hesitated to destroy the property or disturb the life of those 
who were believed to enjoy Heaven's special favor. The 
monastery furnished, too, a refuge for the disconsolate, an 
asylum for the disgraced, and food and shelter for the 
indolent who would otherwise have had to earn their living. 
There were, therefore, many motives which helped to fill the 


Conversio7i of the Gentians 5 7 

monasteries. Kings and nobles, for the good of their souls, 

readily gave land upon which to found colonies of monks, 

and there were plenty of remote spots in the mountains and 

forests to tempt the recluse. 

Monastic communities first developed on a large scale in Necessity for 

Egypt in the fourth century. Just as the Germans were lationof 

. . ~ . ^ , , , rs, T monastic life, 

wmnmg their nrst great victory at Adnanople, St. Jerome was 

engaged in showing the advantages of the ascetic Christian 
life, which was a new thing in the West. In the sixth century 
monasteries multiplied so rapidly in western Europe that it 
became necessary to establish definite rules for the numer- 
ous communities which proposed to desert the ordinary ways 
of the world and lead a peculiar Hfe apart. The monastic 
regulations which had been drawn up in the East did not 
answer the purpose, for the climate of the West and the tem- 
perament of the Latin peoples differed too much from those of 
the Orient. Accordingly St. Benedict drew up, about the year 
526, a sort of constitution for the monastery of Monte Cassino, 
in southern Italy, of which he was the head. This was so saga- 
cious, and so well. met the needs of the monastic life, that it was 
rapidly accepted by the other monasteries and gradually became 
the " rule " according to which all the western monks lived. ^ 

The Rule of St. Benedict is as important as any constitution The Rule of 

T . ^ , St. Benedict, 

that was ever drawn up for a state. It is for the most part 

natural and wholesome. It provides that, since every one is 

not fitted for the ascetic life, the candidate for admission to 

the monastery shall pass through a period of probation, called 

the novitiate^ before he is permitted to take the solemn and 

irrevocable vow. The brethren shall elect their head, the 

1 Benedict did not introduce monasticism in the West, as is sometimes sup- 
posed, nor did he even found an order in the proper sense of the word, under a 
single head, like the later Franciscans and Dominicans. Nevertheless, the monks 
who lived under his rule are ordinarily spoken of as belonging to the Benedictine 
order. A translation of the Benedictine rule may be found in Henderson, 
Historical Docwnciits, pp. 274-314. 


History of Western Europe 

The monks 
copy, and so 
preserve, the 

abbot, whom they must obey unconditionally in all that is not 
sinful. Along with prayer and meditation, the monks are to 
work at manual occupations and cultivate the soil. They shall 
also read and teach. Those who are incapacitated for outdoor 
work shall copy edifying books. The monk was not permitted 
to own anything whatever in his own right ; he pledged him- 
self to perpetual and absolute poverty, and everything he used 
was the property of the convent. Along with the vows of obedi- 
ence and poverty, he also took that of chastity, which bound 
him never to marry. For not only was the single life considered 
more holy than the married, but the monastic organization 
would, of course, have been impossible unless the monks 
remained single. Aside from these restrictions, the monks 
were commanded to live rational and natural lives and not to 
abuse their bodies or sacrifice their physical vigor by undue 
fasting in the supposed interest of their souls. These sensible 
provisions were directed against the excesses of asceticism, of 
which there had been many instances in the East. 

The influence of the Benedictine monks upon Europe is 
incalculable. From their numbers no less than twenty-four 
popes and forty- six hundred bishops and archbishops have 
been chosen. They boast almost sixteen thousand writers, 
some of great distinction. Their monasteries furnished retreats 
where the scholar might study and write in spite of the pre- 
vailing disorder of the times. The copying of books, as has 
been said, was one of the duties enjoined upon the monks. 
Doubtless their work was often done carelessly, with little 
heart and less understanding. But, with the great loss of 
manuscripts due to the destruction of libraries and the indiffer- 
ence of individual book-owners, it was most essential that 
new copies should be made. Even poor and incorrect ones 
were better than none. It was the monks who prevented the 
loss of a great part of Latin literature, which, without them, 
would probably have reached us only in scanty remains. 

Conversion of the Germans 59 

The monks also helped to rescue honest manual labor, which The monks 
they believed to be a great aid to salvation, from the disrepute material 
into which slavery had brought it in earlier times. They set the of Europe!^ 
example of careful cultivation on the lands about their monas- 
teries and in this way introduced better methods into the 
regions where they settled. They entertained travelers at a 
time when there were few or no inns and so increased the 
intercourse between the various parts of Europe.^ 

The Benedictine monks, as well as later monastic orders, The regular 

were ardent and faithful supporters of the papacy. The clergy. 

Roman Church, which owes much to them, appreciated the 

aid which they might furnish and extended to them many of 

the privileges enjoyed by the clergy. Indeed the monks were 

reckoned as clergymen and were called the "regular" clergy 

because they lived according to a regula, or rule, to distinguish 

them from the "secular" clergy, who continued to live in the 

world {saeculuni) and took no monastic vows. 

The Church, ever anxious to maintain as far-reaching a control Monks and 

over its subjects as that of the Roman Empire, whose power it clergy sup- 
plement each 
inherited, could hardly expect its busy officers, with their mul- other. 

tiform duties and constant relations with men, to represent 
the ideal of contemplative Christianity which was then held in 
higher esteem than the active life. The secular clergy per- 
formed the ceremonies of the Church, administered its business, 
and guarded its property, while the regular clergy illustrated 
the necessity of personal piety and self-denial. Monasticism 
at its best was a monitor standing beside the Church and con- 
stantly warning it against permitting the Christian life to sink 
into mere mechanical and passive acceptance of its cere- 
monies as all-sufficient for salvation. It supplied the element 
of personal responsibiHty and spiritual ambition upon which 
Protestantism has laid so much stress. 

1 Cunningham, Western Civilization^ Vol. II, pp. 37-40, gives a brief account 
of the work of the monks. 


History of Western Europe 

The monks 
as mission- 


Saxons and 
Angles con- 
quer Britain. 

Conversion of 

22. The first great service of the monks was their mission- 
ary labors. To these the later strength of the Roman Church is 
in no small degree due, for the monks made of the unconverted 
Germans not merely Christians, but also dutiful subjects of 
the pope. The first people to engage their attention were the 
heathen Germans who had conquered the once Christian 

The islands which are now known as the kingdom of Great 
Britain and Ireland were, at the opening of the Christian era, 
occupied by several Celtic peoples of whose customs and reli- 
gion we know almost nothing. Julius Caesar commenced the 
conquest of the islands (55 e.g.); but the Romans never suc- 
ceeded in establishing their power beyond the wall which they 
built, from the Clyde to the Firth of Forth, to keep out the 
wild Celtic tribes of the North. Even south of the wall the 
country was not completely Romanized, and the Celtic tongue 
has actually survived down to the present day in Wales. 

At the opening of the fifth century the barbarian invasions 
forced Rome to withdraw its legions from Britain in order to 
protect its frontiers on the continent. The island was thus 
left to be gradually conquered by the Germans, mainly Saxons 
and Angles, who came across the North Sea from the region 
south of Denmark. Almost all record of what went on during 
the two centuries following the departure of the Romans has 
disappeared. No one knows the fate of the original Celtic 
inhabitants of England. It is unlikely that they were, as 
was formerly supposed, all killed or driven to the mountain 
districts of Wales. More probably they were gradually lost 
among the dominating Germans with whom they merged into 
one people. The Saxon and Angle chieftains established 
petty kingdoms, of which there were seven or eight at the 
time when Gregory the Great became pope. 

Gregory, while still a simple monk, had been struck with the 
beauty of some Angles whom he saw one day in the slave 

Conversion of the Germans 


market of Rome. When he learned who they were he was 
grieved that such handsome beings should still belong to the 
kingdom of the Prince of Darkness, and, had he been permitted, 
he himself would have gone as a missionary to their people. 
Upon becoming pope he sent forty monks to England from 
one of the monasteries that he had founded, placing a prior, 
Augustine, at their head and designating him in advance as 
Bishop of England. The heathen king of Kent, in whose 

Ancient Church of St. Martin's, Canterbury 

territory the monks landed with fear and trembling (597), had 
a Christian wife, the daughter of a Frankish king. Through her 
influence the monks were kindly received and were assigned an 
ancient church at Canterbury, dating from the Roman occu- 
pation before the German invasions. Here they established 
a monastery, and from this center the conversion, first of 
Kent and then of the whole island, was gradually effected. 
Canterbury has always maintained its early preeminence and 
may still be considered the religious capital of England.^ 

1 See Readings, Chapter V, for Gregory's instructions to his missionaries. 


History of Western Europe 

The Irish 

the Roman 
Church and 
the Irish 

Victory of 



Augustine and his monks were not, however, the only Chris- 
tians in the British Isles. Britain had been converted to 
Christianity when it was a Roman province, and some of the 
missionaries, led by St. Patrick (d. about 469), had made their 
way into Ireland and established a center of Christianity 
there. When the Germans overran Britain and reheathenized 
it, the Irish monks and clergy were too far off to be troubled 
by the barbarians. They knew little of the traditions of the 
Roman Church and diverged from its customs in some respects. 
They celebrated Easter upon a different date from that observed 
by the Roman Church and employed a different style of ton- 
sure. Missionaries from this Irish church were busy convert- 
ing the northern regions of Britain, when the Roman monks 
under Augustine began their work in the southern part of 
the island. 

There was sure to be trouble between the two parties. The 
Irish clergy, while they professed great respect for the pope 
and did not wish to be cut off from the rest of the Christian 
Church, were unwilling to abandon their peculiar usages and 
accept those sanctioned by Rome. Nor would they recognize 
as their superior the Archbishop of Canterbury, whom the 
pope had made the head of the British church. The pope, 
on his part, felt that it was all-important that these isolated 
Christians should become a part of the great organization of 
which he claimed to be the head. Neither party would make 
any concessions, and for two generations each went its own 
way, cherishing a bitter hostility toward the other. ; 

At last the Roman Church won the victory, as it soj 
often did in later struggles. In 664, through the influence 
of the king of Northumbria who did not wish to risk being 
on bad terms with the pope, the Roman Catholic form of 
faith was solemnly recognized in an assembly at Whitby, 
and the leader of the Irish missionaries sadly withdrew to 

Map of Christian Missions 


History of Western Europe 

Early culture 
in England. 

The Vener- 
able Bede. 

Irish mission- 
aries on the 

The king of Northumbria, upon opening the Council of 
Whitby, said " that it was proper that those who served one 
God should observe one rule of conduct and not depart from 
one another in the ways of celebrating the holy mysteries, 
since they all hoped for the same kingdom of heaven." That 
a remote island of Europe should set up its traditions against 
the customs sanctioned by the rest of Christendom appeared 
to him highly unreasonable. This faith in the necessary unity 
of the Church is one of the secrets of its strength. England 
became a part of the ever-growing territory embraced in the 
Catholic Church and remained as faithful to the pope as any 
other Catholic country, down to the defection of Henry VIII 
in the early part of the sixteenth century. 

The consolidation of the rival churches in Great Britain 
was followed by a period of general enthusiasm for Rome and 
its literature and culture. Lindisfarne, Wearmouth, and other 
English monasteries became centers of learning unrivaled per- 
haps in the rest of Europe. A constant intercourse was main- 
tained with Rome. Masons and glassmakers were brought 
across the Channel to replace the wooden churches of Britain 
by stone edifices in the style of the Romans. The young 
clergy were taught Latin and sometimes Greek. Copies of the 
• ancient classics were brought from the continent and repro- 
duced. The most distinguished man of letters of the seventh 
and early eighth centuries was the English monk Baeda (often 
called The Venerable Bede, 673-735), from whose admirable 
history of the Church in England most of our information 
about the period is derived.^ 

23. From England missionaries carried the enthusiasm for 
the Church back across the Channel. In spite of the conver- 
sion of Clovis and the wholesale baptism of his soldiers, the 
Franks, especially those farthest north, had been very imper- 
fectly Christianized. A few years before Augustine landed in 

1 See Readings, Chapter V. 

Conversion of the Germans 6 5 

Kent, St. Columban, one of the Irish missionaries of whom St. coium- 
we have spoken, landed in Gaul. He went from place to st°Gaii. 
place founding monasteries and gaining the respect of the 
people by his rigid self-denial and by the miracles that he 
performed. He even penetrated among the still wholly 
pagan Alemanni about the Lake of Constance. When driven 
away by their pagan king, he turned his attention to the 
Lombards in northern Italy, where he died in 615.^ St. Gall, 
one of his followers, remained near the Lake of Constance 
and attracted about him so many disciples and companions that 
a great monastery grew up which was named after him and 
became one of the most celebrated in central Europe. Other 
Irish missionaries penetrated into the forests of Thuringia 
and Bavaria. The German church looks back, however, to an 
English missionary as its real founder. 

In 718, about a hundred years after the death of St. St. Boniface, 
Columban, St. Boniface, an English monk, was sent by the the Germans, 
pope as an apostle to the Germans. After four years spent in 
reconnoitering the field of his future labors, he returned to 
Rome and was made a missionary bishop, taking the same 
oath of obedience to the pope that the bishops in the imme- ' 
diate vicinity of Rome were accustomed to take. Indeed 
absolute subordination to the pope was a part of Boniface's 
religion, and he became a powerful agent in promoting the 
supremacy of the Roman see. 

Under the protection of the powerful Frankish mayor of 
the palace, Charles Martel, Boniface carried on his missionary 
work with such zeal that he succeeded in bringing all the 
older Christian communities which had been established by 
the Irish missionaries under the papal control, as well as in 

1 There is a Life of St. Columban^ written by one of his companions, which, 
although short and simple in the extreme, furnishes a better idea of the Chris- 
tian spirit of the sixth century than the longest treatise by a modern writer. This 
life may be found in Translations and Reprints^ Vol. II, No. 7, translated by 
Professor Munro. 

66 History of Western Europe 

converting many of the more remote German tribes who still 
clung to their old pagan beliefs. His energetic methods are 
illustrated by the story of how he cut down the sacred oak 
of Odin at Fritzlar, in Hesse, and used the wood to build a 
chapel, around which a monastery soon grew up. In 732 
Boniface was raised to the dignity of Archbishop of Mayence 
and proceeded to establish, in the newly converted region, the 
German bishoprics of Salzburg, Regensburg, Wiirzburg, Erfurt, 
and several others ; this gives us some idea of the geographical 
extent of his labors. 
Boniface After Organizing the German church he turned his atten- 

churchin tion, with the hearty approval of the pope and the support 
brings it into of the Frankish rulers, to a general reformation of the church 
the pope. in Gaul. Here the clergy were sadly demoralized, and the 
churches and monasteries had been despoiled of much of their 
property in the constant turmoil of the time. Boniface suc- 
ceeded, with the help of Charles Martel, in bettering affairs, 
and through his efforts the venerable church of Gau^, almost 
as old as that of Rome itself, was brought under the supremacy 
of the pope. In 748 the assembled bishops of Craul bound 
themselves to maintain the Catholic unity of faith and follow 
strictly the precepts of the vicar of St. Peter, the pope, so that 
they might be reckoned among Peter's sheep. 

General Reading. — The best history of the monks to be had in 
English is Montalembert, The Monks of the West from St. Benedict 
to St. Bej-nard (Longmans, Green & Co., 6 vols., ^15.00). The writer's 
enthusiasm and his excellent style make his work very attractive. The 
advanced student will gain much from Taylor, Classical Heritage of 
the Middle Ages (The Macmillan Company, ^1.75), Chapter VII, on 
the origin and spirit of monasticism. See also Harnack, Monasticisvi 
(Scribners, 50 cents). The works on church history referred to at the 
end of the preceding chapter all contain some account of the monks. 



24. Just as the pope was becoming the acknowledged head charies 
of the Western Church, the Frankish realms came successively Prankish 
under the rule of two great statesmen, Charles Martel and his S^paiace, 
son Pippin the Short, who laid the foundation of Charlemagne's '^^^~'^^^' 
vast empire. 

The difficulties which Charles Martel had to face were much Difficulty of 
the same as those which for centuries to follow confronted the together 
sovereigns of western Europe. The great problem of the fnihielny 
mediaeval ruler was to make his power felt throughout his whole 
territory in spite of the many rich and ambitious officials, 
bishops, and abbots who eagerly took advantage of all the king's 
weaknesses and embarrassments to make themselves practically 
supreme in their respective districts. 

The two classes of officers of which we hear most were the origin of 
counts (Latin, comites) and the dukes (Latin, duces), A count dukes, 
ordinarily represented the king within the district comprised 
in an old municipality of the Empire. Over a number of 
counts the king might place a duke. Both of these titles were 
borrowed by the Germans from the names of Roman officials. 
While the king appointed, and might dismiss, these officers 
when he pleased, there was a growing tendency for them to 
hold their positions for hfe. 

We find Charles fighting the dukes of Aquitaine, Bavaria, 
and Alemannia, each of whom was endeavoring to make the 
territory which he was deputed to rule in the king's interest a 
separate and independent country under his own supremacy. 


History of Westeim Europe 

Charles and 
his bishops. 


By successive campaigns against these rebellious magnates, 
Charles succeeded in reuniting all those outlying districts that 
tended to forget or ignore their connection with the Frankish 

The bishops proved almost, if not quite, as troublesome to 
the mayor of the palace as the dukes, and later the counts. 
It is true that Charles kept the choice of the bishops in his 
own hands and refused to give to the clergy and people of 
the diocese the privilege of electing their head, as the rules 
of the Church prescribed. But when a bishop had once 
got possession of the lands attached to the bishopric and 
exercised the wide powers and influence which fell to him, he 
was often tempted, especially if he were a nobleman, to use his 
privileged position to estabUsh a practically independent prin- 
cipality. The same was true of the heads of powerful monas- 
teries. These dangerous bishops and abbots Charles deposed 
in wholesale fashion. He substituted his own friends for them 
with little regard to the rules of the Church — for instance, he 
bestowed on his nephew the three bishoprics of Paris, Rouen, 
and Bayeux, besides two monasteries. The new incumbents 
were, however, no better than the old ; they were, indeed, in 
spite of their clerical robes, only laymen, who continued to 
fight and hunt in their customary manner. 

The most famous of Charles' deeds was his decisive defeat 
of the advancing Mohammedans who were pressing into Gaul 
from Spain. Before speaking of this a word must be said of 
the invaders and their religion, for the Saracens, as the fol- 
lowers of Mohammed were commonly called, will come into 
our story of western Europe now and then, especially during 
the Crusades. 

25. Just as Gregory the Great was dying in Rome, leaving 
to his successors a great heritage of spiritual and temporal 
influence, a young Arab in far-off Mecca was meditating upon 
the mysteries of Hfe and laying the foundation of a religious 

Charles Martel and Pippin 69 

power rivaling even that of the popes. Before the time of 
Mohammed the Arabs had played no important part in the 
world's history. The scattered tribes were at war with one 
another, and each worshiped its own gods, when it wor- 
shiped at all. But when the peoples of the desert accepted 
Mohammed as their prophet and his rehgion as theirs, they 
became an irresistible force for the dissemination of the new 
teaching and for the subjugation of the world. 

Mohammed came of a good family, but was reduced by TheHejira, 
poverty to enter the employ of a rich widow, named Kadijah, 
who fell in love with him and became his wife. She was his 
first convert and kept up his courage when few among his 
fellow-townsmen in Mecca would believe in his visions or 
accept the teachings which he claimed to receive direct from 
the angel Gabriel. Finally he discovered that his many 
enemies were planning to kill him, so he fled to the neighbor- 
ing town of Medina, where he had friends. His flight (the 
Hejira), which took place in the year 622, was taken by his 
followers as the beginning of a new era, — the year one, as 
Mohammedans reckon time. A war ensued between the 
people of Mecca and those in and about Medina who sup- 
ported Mohammed. It was eight years before he reentered 
Mecca, the religious center of Arabia, with a victorious army. 
Before his death in 632 he had received the adhesion of all 
the Arab chiefs, and his faith, Islam (which means submission 
to God), was accepted throughout the Arabian peninsula. 

Mohammed was accustomed to fall into a trance from time to The Koran 
time, after which he would recite to his eager listeners the mes- religion of 
sages which he received from Heaven. These were collected 
into a volume shortly after his death, and make up the Koran, 
the Bible of the Mohammedan.^ This contains all the funda- 
mental beHefs of the new religion, as well as the laws under 
which the faithful were to live. It proclaims one God, " the 
1 For extracts from the Koran, see Readings, Chapter VI. 

JO History of Westerii Europe 

Lord of the worlds, the merciful, the compassionate," and 
Mohammed as his prophet. It announces a day of judgment 
in which each shall receive his reward for the deeds done in 
the flesh, and either be admitted to paradise or banished to 
an eternally burning hell. Those who die fighting for the 
sacred cause shall find themselves in a high garden, where, 
"content with their past endeavors," they shall hear no 
foolish word and shall recHne in rich brocades upon soft 
cushions and rugs and be served by surpassingly beautiful 
maidens. Islam has much in common with Judaism and 
Christianity. Jesus even has a place in it, but only as one 
of the prophets, like Abraham, Moses, and others, who have 
brought religious truth to mankind. 

The religion of Mohammed was simpler than that of the 
mediaeval Christian Church. It provided for no priesthood, nor 
for any elaborate rites and ceremonies. Five times a day the 
faithful Mohammedan must pray, always with his face turned 
toward Mecca. One month in the year he must fast during 
the daytime. If he is educated, he will know the Koran by 
heart. The mosque is a house of prayer and the place for the 
reading of the Koran ; no altars or images are permitted in it. 
Mohammedan Mohammed's successor assumed the title of caliph. Under 

conquests. , • i , i /- i i • • 

him the Arabs went forth to conquer the great territories to 

the north of them, belonging to the Persians and the Roman 
emperor at Constantinople. They met with marvelous suc- 
cess. Within ten years after Mohammed's death the Arabs had 
estabHshed a great empire with its capital at Damascus, from 
whence the caliph ruled over Arabia, Persia, Syria, and Egypt. 
In the following decades new conquests were made all along 
the coast of Africa, and in 708 Tangier was taken and the 
Arabs could look across the Straits of Gibraltar to Spain.^ - 

1 An admirable brief description of the culture of the Arabs and their contri- 
butions to European civilization will be found in Munro, Mediceval History, 
Chapter IX. 

Charles Martel and Pippin 


The kingdom of the West Goths was in no condition to The Arabs 
defend itself when a few Arabs and a much larger number of 
Berbers, inhabitants of northern Africa, ventured to cross 
over. Some of the Spanish towns held out for a time, but the 
invaders found allies in the numerous Jews who had been 
shamefully treated by their Christian countrymen. As for the 
innumerable serfs who worked on the great estates of the aris- 
tocracy, a change of landlords made very little difference to 

Map of Arabic Conquests 

them. In 7 1 1 the Arabs and Berbers gained a great battle, and 
the peninsula was gradually overrun by new immigrants from 
Africa. In seven years the Mohammedans were masters of 
almost the whole region south of the Pyrenees. They then 
began to cross into Gaul and took possession of the district 
about Narbonne. For some years the duke of Aquitaine kept 
them in check, but in 732 they collected a large army, defeated 
the duke near Bordeaux, advanced to Poitiers, where they 
burned the church, and then set out for Tours. 


History of Western Europe 

Battle of 
Tours, 732. 

Pippin and 

Abdication of 

assumes the 
crown with 
the approba- 
tion of the 
pope, 752. 

Charles Martel at once sent out a summons to all who could 
bear arms and, in the same year, met and repulsed the Moham- 
medans near Tours. We know very little indeed of the details 
of the conflict, but it is certain that the followers of Mohammed 
retreated and that they never made another attempt to conquer 
western Europe. 

26. Charles was able, before his death in 741, to secure the 
succession to his office of mayor of the palace for his two sons, 
Pippin and Carloman. The brothers left the nominal king on 
the throne ; but he had nothing to do, as the chronicler tells 
us, " but to be content with his name of king, his flowing hair 
and long beard ; to sit on his throne and play the ruler, listen- 
ing to the ambassadors who came from all directions, and giv- 
ing them the answers that had been taught him, as if of his 
own sovereign will. In reality, however, he had nothing but 
the royal name and a beggarly income at the will of the mayor 
of the palace." The new mayors had succeeded in putting 
down all opposition when, to the astonishment of every one, 
Carloman abdicated and assumed the gown of a monk. Pippin 
took control of the whole Frankish dominion, and we find the 
unusual statement in the Frankish annals that " the whole land 
enjoyed peace for two years" (749-750). 

Pippin now felt himself strong enough to get rid of the 
"do-nothing" king altogether and assume for himself the 
nominal as well as the real kingship of the Franks. It was, 
however, a delicate matter to depose even a quite useless mon- 
arch, so he determined to consult the head of the Church. To 
Pippin's query whether it was fitting that the Merovingian king 
of the Franks, having no power, should continue to reign, the 
pope replied : " It seems better that he who has the power in 
the state should be king and be called king, rather than he who 
is falsely called king." 

It will be noticed that the pope in no sense created Pippin 
king, as later writers claimed. He sanctioned a usurpation 

of kingship. 

Charles Mart el ajid Pippiii 73 

which was practically inevitable and which was carried out with 
the approbation of the Frankish nation. Raised on the 
shields of the counts and dukes, anointed by St. Boniface, 
and blessed by the pope, Pippin became in 752 the first king 
of the Carolingian family, which had already for several 
generations ruled the Franks in all but name. 

This participation of the pope brought about a very funda- a new theory 
mental change in the theory of kingship. The kings of the 
Germans up to this time had been miUtary leaders selected, or 
holding their office, by the will of the people, or at least of the 
aristocracy. Their rule had had no divine sanction, but only 
that of general acquiescence backed up by sufficient skill and 
popularity to frustrate the efforts of rivals. By the anointing 
of Pippin in accordance with the ancient Jewish custom, first 
by St. Boniface and then by the pope himself, "a German 
chieftain was," as Gibbon expresses, it " transformed into the 
Lord's anointed." The pope uttered a dire anathema of divine 
vengeance against any one who should attempt to supplant the 
holy and meritorious race of Pippin. It became a religions 
duty to obey the king. He came to be regarded by the Church, 
when he had duly received its sanction, as God's representa- 
tive on earth. Here we have the basis of the later idea of 
monarchs " by the grace of God," against whom, however bad 
they might be, it was not merely a poHtical offense, but a sin, 
to revolt. 

27. The sanction of Pippin's usurpation by the pope was but 
an indication of the good feeling between the two greatest 
powers in the West, — the head of the ever-strengthening 
Frankish state and the head of the Church. This good feeling 
quickly ripened into an alliance, momentous for the history of 
Europe. In order to understand this we must glance at the 
motives which led the popes to throw off their allegiance to 
their ancient sovereigns, the emperors at Constantinople, and 
turn for help to Pippin and his successors. 


Histo7y of Western Europe 

over the 
veneration of 
images and 
the so-called 

The popes 
and the 

For more than a century after the death of Gregory the 
Great his successors continued to remain respectful subjects of 
the emperor. They looked to him for occasional help against 
the Lombards in northern Italy, who showed a disposition to 
add Rome to their possessions. In 725, however, the emperor 
Leo III aroused the bitter opposition of the pope by issuing a 
decree forbidding the usual veneration of the images of Christ 
and the saints. The emperor was a thoughtful Christian and felt 
keenly the taunts of the Mohammedans, who held all images 
in abhorrence and regarded the Christians as idolaters. He 
therefore ordered all sacred images throughout his empire to 
be removed from the churches, and all figures on the church 
walls to be whitewashed over. This aroused serious opposi- 
tion even in Constantinople, and the farther west one went, the 
more obstinate became the resistance. The pope refused to 
obey the edict, for he held that the emperor had no right to 
interfere with practices hallowed by the Church. He called a 
council which declared all persons excommunicated who should 
"throw down, destroy, profane or blaspheme the holy images." 
The opposition of the West was successful, and the images 
kept their places.-^ 

In spite of their abhorrence of the iconoclastic Leo and his 
successors, the popes did not give up all hope that the emperors 
might aid them in keeping the Lombards out of Rome. At 
last a Lombard ruler arose, Aistulf, a " son of iniquity," who 
refused to consider the prayers or threats of the head of the 
Church. In 751 Aistulf took Ravenna and threatened Rome. 
He proposed to substitute his supremacy for that of the east- 
ern emperor and make of Italy a single state, with Rome as its 
capital. This was a critical moment for the peninsula. Was 
Italy, like Gaul, to be united under a single German people 

1 One of the most conspicuous features of early Protestantism, eight hundred 
years later, was the revival of Leo's attack upon the statues and frescoes which 
continued to adorn the churches in Germany, England, and the Netherlands. 

Charles Martel and Pippin 75 

and to develop, as France has done, a characteristic civiHzation ? 
The Lombards had progressed so far that they were not unfitted 
to organize a state that should grow into a nation. But the 
head of the Church could not consent to endanger his inde- 
pendence by becoming the subject of an Italian king. It was 
therefore the pope who prevented the establishment of an 
Italian kingdom at this time and who continued for the same 
reason to stand in the way of the unification of Italy for more The pope 
than a thousand years, until he was dispossessed of his realms Franks 
not many decades ago by Victor Emmanuel. After vainly 
turning in his distress to his natural protector, the emperor, 
the pope had no resource but to appeal to Pippin, upon whose 
fidelity he had every reason to rely. He crossed the Alps and 
was received with the greatest cordiality and respect by the 
Frankish monarch, who returned to Italy with him and relieved 
Rome (754). 

No sooner had Pippin recrossed the Alps than the Lombard Pippin sub- 
. ^ ^ ^ ^ . . . dues the 

kmg, ever anxious to add Rome to his possessions, again Lombards. 

invested the Eternal City. Pope Stephen's letters to the king 
of the Franks at this juncture are characteristic of the time. 
The pope warmly argues that Pippin owes all his victories 
to St. Peter and should now hasten to the relief of his suc- 
cessor. If the king permits the city of the prince of the 
apostles to be lacerated and tormented by the Lombards, his 
own soul will be lacerated and tormented in hell by the devil 
and his pestilential angels. These arguments proved effect- 
ive ; Pippin immediately undertook a second expedition to 
Italy, from which he did not return until the kingdom of the 
Lombards had become tributary to his own, as Bavaria and 
Aquitaine already were. 

Pippin, instead of restoring to the eastern emperor the lands Donation of 
which the Lombards had recently occupied, handed them over 
to the pope, — on exactly what terms we do not know, since the 
deed of cession has disappeared. In consequence of these 

76 History of Western Europe 

important additions to the former territories of St. Peter, the 
popes were thereafter the nominal rulers of a large district in 
central Italy, extending across the peninsula from Ravenna to 
a point well south of Rome. If, as many writers have main- 
tained, Pippin recognized the pope as the sovereign of this 
district, we find here the first state that was destined to endure 
into the nineteenth century delimited on the map of Europe. 
A map of Italy as late as the year i860 shows the same region 
still marked " States of the Church." 
Significance The reign of Pippin is remarkable in several ways. It wit- 
reign, nessed the strengthening of the kingly power in the Frankish 
state, which was soon to embrace most of western Europe and 
form the starting point for the development of the modern 
countries of France, Germany, and Austria. It furnishes the 
first instance of the interference of a northern prince in the 
affairs of Italy, which was destined to become the stumbling- 
block of many a later French and German king. Lastly, the 
pope had now a state of his own, which, in spite of its small size, 
proved one of the most important and permanent in Europe. 

Pippin and his son Charlemagne saw only the strength 
and not the disadvantage that accrued to their title from the 
papal sanction. It is none the less true, as Gibbon says, that 
"under the sacerdotal monarchy of St. Peter, the nations 
began to resume the practice of seeking, on the banks of the 
Tiber, their kings, their laws, and the oracles of their fate." 
We shall have ample evidence of this as we proceed. 

General Reading. — For Mohammed and the Saracens, Oilman, The 
Saracens (G. P. Putnam's Sons, ^1.50). Gibbon has a famous chapter 
on Mohammed and another upon the conquests of the Arabs. These 
are the fiftieth and fifty-first of his great work. See also Muir, Life of 
Mohammed (Smith, Elder & Co., ^4.50). 




28. Charlemagne is the first historical personage among 
the German peoples of whom we have any satisfactory knowl- 
edge.^ Compared with him, Theodoric, Charles Martel, Pip- 
pin, and the rest are but shadowy figures. The chronicles tell 
us something of their deeds, but we can make only the vaguest 
inferences in regard to their character and temperament. 

The appearance of Charlemagne, as described by his secre- Charie- 
tary, so exactly corresponds with the character of the king as personal 
exhibited in his great reign, that it is worthy of attention. He 
was tall and stoutly built ; his face was round, his eyes were 
large and keen, his nose somewhat above the common size, 
his expression bright and cheerful. Whether he stood or sat, 
his form was full of dignity ; for the good proportion and grace 
of his body prevented the observer from noticing that his neck 
was rather short and his person somewhat too stout. His step 
was firm and his aspect manly ; his voice was clear, but rather 
weak for so large a body. He was active in all bodily exer- 
cises, delighted in riding and hunting, and was an expert 
swimmer. His excellent health and his physical alertness and 
endurance can alone explain the astonishing swiftness with 
which he moved about his vast realm and conducted innumer- 
able campaigns in widely distant regions in startHngly rapid 

1 Charlemagne is the French form for the Latin, Carolus Magnus, i.e., Charles 
the Great. It has been regarded as good English for so long that it seems best 
to retain it, although some writers, fearful lest one may think of Charles as a 
Frenchman instead of a German, use the German form, Karl. 


yS History of Western Europe 

Hiseduca- Charles was an educated man and one who knew how to 

tion, his atti- . , i i i • -.tti t i 

tude toward appreciate and encourage scholarship. When at dinner he 

his public had some one read to him ; he delighted especially in history 
and in St. Augustine's City of God. He could speak Latin 
well and understood Greek readily. He tried to learn to write, 
but began too late in life and got no farther than signing his 
name. He called scholarly men to his court, took advantage 
of their learning, and did much toward reestablishing a regular 
system of public instruction. He was also constantly occu- 
pied with buildings and other public works calculated to adorn 
and benefit his kingdom. He himself planned the remarkable 
cathedral at Aix-la-Chapelle and showed the greatest interest 
in its furnishings. He commenced two palaces of beautiful 
workmanship, one near Mayence and the other at Nimwegen, in 
Holland, and had a long bridge constructed across the Rhine 
at Mayence. 
The charie- The impression which his reign made upon men's minds 
romance. grew even after his death. He became the hero of a whole 
cycle of romantic but wholly unhistoric adventures and achieve- 
ments which were as devoutly believed for centuries as his 
most authentic deeds. In the fancy of an. old monk in the 
monastery of St. Gall,^ writing of Charlemagne not long after 
his death, the king of the Franks swept over Europe sur- 
rounded by countless legions of soldiers who formed a very 
sea of bristHng steel. Knights of superhuman valor formed 
his court and became the models for the chivalrous spirit of 
the following centuries. Distorted but imposing, the Charle- 
magne of poetry meets us all through the Middle Ages. 

A study of Charlemagne's reign will substantiate our first 
impression that he was a truly remarkable person, one of the 
greatest figures in the world's records and deservedly the 

1 Professor Emerton (Introduction^ pp. 183-185) gives an example of the 
style and spirit of the monk of St. Gall, who was formerly much relied upon for 
knowledge of Charlemagne. 

Charlemagne 79 

hero of the Middle Ages. To few men has it been given to 
influence so profoundly the course of European progress. We 
shall consider him first as a conqueror, then as an organizer 
and creator of governmental institutions, and lastly as a pro- 
moter of culture and enlightenment. 

29. It was Charlemagne's ideal to bring all the German Charie- 
peoples together into one great Christian empire, and he was S^^great ^^ 
wonderfully successful in attaining his end. Only a small empire, 
portion of what is now called Germany was included in the 
kingdom ruled over by Pippin. Frisia and Bavaria had been 
Christianized, and their native rulers had been induced by 
the efforts of Charlemagne's predecessors and of the mission- 
aries, especially Boniface, to recognize formally the overlord- 
ship of the Franks. Between these two half-independent 
countries lay the unconquered Saxons. They were as yet 
pagans and appear to have still clung to much the same 
institutions as those under which they lived when the Roman 
historian Tacitus described them seven centuries earlier. 

The Saxons occupied the region beginning somewhat east Thecon- 
of Cologne and extending to the Elbe, and north to where saxons. 
the great cities of Bremen and Hamburg are now situated. 
The present kingdom of Saxony would hardly have come 
within their boundaries. The Saxons had no towns or roads 
and were consequently very difficult to conquer, as they could 
retreat, with their few possessions, into the forests or swamps as 
soon as they found themselves unable to meet an invader in the 
open field. Yet so long as they remained unconquered they 
constantly threatened the Frankish kingdom, and the incor- 
poration of their country was essential to the rounding out of 
its boundaries. Charlemagne never undertook, during his long 
mihtary career, any other task half so serious as the subjuga- 
tion of the Saxons, and it occupied his attention for many 
years. Nine successive rebellions had to be put down, and it 
was finally owing rather to the Church than to Charlemagne's 

8o Histoiy of Western Europe 

military prowess that the great task was brought to a successful 
Conversion of Nowhere do we find a more striking example of the influence 
of the Church than in the reliance that Charlemagne placed 
upon it in his dealings with the Saxons. He deemed it quite 
as essential that after a rebelHon they should promise to 
honor the Church and be baptized as that they should pledge 
themselves to remain true and faithful vassals of the king. He 
was in quite as much haste to found bishoprics and abbeys as 
to build fortresses. The law for the newly conquered Saxon 
lands, issued sometime between 775 and 790, provides the same 
death penalty for him who " shall have shown himself unfaith- 
ful to the lord king," and him who " shall have wished to hide 
himself unbaptized and shall have scorned to come to baptism 
and shall have wished to remain a pagan." Charlemagne 
believed the Christianizing of the Saxons so important a part 
of his duty that he decreed that all should suffer death who 
entered a church by violence and carried off anything by force, 
or even failed to abstain from meat during Lent.-^ No one, 
under penalty of heavy fines, was to make vows, in the pagan 
fashion, at trees or springs, or partake of any heathen feasts in 
honor of the demons (as the Christians termed the heathen 
deities), or fail to present infants for baptism before they were 
a year old. 

For the support of the local churches, those who lived in the 
parish were to give toward three hundred acres of land and 
a house for the priest. " Likewise, in accordance with the 

1 These decrees lose something of their harshness by the provision : " If after 
secretly committing any one of these mortal crimes any one shall flee of his own 
accord to the priest and, after confessing, shall wish to do penance, let him be freed, 
on the testimony of the priest, from death." This is but another illustration of 
the theory that the Church was in the Middle Ages a governmental institution. 
It would be quite out of harmony with modern ideas should the courts of law, 
in dealing with one who had committed a crime, consider in any way the 
relations of the suspected criminal to his priest or minister, or modify his 
sentence on account of any reUgious duties that the criminal might consent 
to perform. 

Charle'inagne 8 1 

mandate of God, we command that all shall give a tithe of 

their property and labor to the churches and the priests ; let 

the nobles as well as the freemen, likewise the serfs, according 

to that which God shall have given to each Christian, return 

a part to God." 

These provisions are characteristic of the theory of the Cooperation 
,,.-_,. ,. 1 • 1 1 • -1 11 of the civil 

Middle Ages according to which the civil government and the government 

Church went hand in hand in ordering and governing the life church, 
of the people. Defection from the Church was regarded by 
the state as quite as serious a crime as treason against itself. 
While the claims of the two institutions sometimes conflicted, 
there was no question in the minds either of the king's officials 
or of the clergy that both the civil and ecclesiastical govern- 
ment were absolutely necessary ; neither class ever dreamed 
that they could get along without the other. 

Before the Frankish conquest the Saxons had no towns. Foundation 
Now, around the seat of the bishop, or about a monastery, northern 
men began to collect and towns and cities to grow up. Of 
these the chief was Bremen, which is still one of the most 
important ports of Germany. 

30. Pippin, it will be remembered, had covenanted with Charle- 
the papacy to protect it from its adversaries. The king of becomes 

the Lombards had taken advantage of Charlemagne's seeming Lombards. 

preoccupation with his German affairs to attack the city of 

Rome again. The pope immediately demanded the aid of 

Charlemagne, who prepared to carry out his father's pledges. 

He ordered the Lombard ruler to return the cities that he had 

taken from the pope. Upon his refusal to do this, Charlemagne 

invaded Lombardy in 773 with a great army and took Pa via, 

the capital, after a long siege. The Lombard king was forced 

to become a monk, and his treasure was divided among the 

Frankish soldiers. Charlemagne then took the extremely 

important step, in 774, of having himself recognized by all 

the Lombard dukes and counts as king of the Lombards. 


History of Western Europe 

and Bavaria 
in Charle- 

policy of 


marches and 

The considerable provinces of Aquitaine and Bavaria had 
never formed an integral part of the Frankish realms, but had 
remained semi-independent under their native dukes up to 
the time of Charlemagne. Aquitaine, whose dukes had given 
Pippin much trouble, was incorporated into the Frankish 
state in 769. As for the Bavarians, Charlemagne felt that so 
long as they remained under their duke he could not rely 
upon them to defend the Frankish empire against the Slavs, 
who were constantly threatening the frontiers. So he com- 
pelled the duke of Bavaria to surrender his possessions, shut 
him up in a monastery, and proceeded to portion out the 
duchy among his counts. He thus added to his realms 
the district that lay between his new Saxon conquest and the 
Lombard kingdom. 

31. So far we have spoken only of the relations of Charle- 
magne with the Germans, for even the Lombard kingdom was 
established by the Germans. He had, however, other peoples 
to deal with, especially the Slavs on the east (who were one 
day to build up the kingdoms of Poland, Bohemia, and the 
vast Russian empire) and, on the opposite boundary of his 
dominion, the Arabs in Spain. Against these it was necessary 
to protect his realms, and the second part of Charlemagne's 
reign was devoted to what may be called his foreign policy. 
A single campaign in 789 seems to have sufficed to subdue 
the Slavs, who lay to the north and east of the Saxons, and to 
force the Bohemians to acknowledge the supremacy of the 
Frankish king and pay tribute to him. 

The necessity of insuring the Frankish realms against any 
new uprising of these non-German nations led to the estab- 
lishment, on the confines of the kingdom, of 7narches, i.e., 
districts under the military control of counts of the march, 
or margraves} Their business was to prevent any hostile 


1 The king of Prussia still has, among other titles, that of Margrave of Branden- 
burg. The German word Mark is often used for " march " on maps of Germany, 

Charlemagne 8 3 

incursions into the interior of the kingdom. Much depended 
upon the efficiency of these men ; in many cases they founded 
powerful famines and later helped to disintegrate the Empire 
by establishing themselves as practically independent rulers. 

At an assembly that Charlemagne held in 777, ambassadors Charlemagne 
appeared before him from certain disaffected Mohammedans. 
They had fallen out with the emir of Cordova ^ and now offered 
to become the faithful subjects of Charlemagne if he would 
come to their aid. In consequence, he undertook his first 
expedition to Spain in the following year. The district north 
of the Ebro was conquered by the Franks after some years of 
war, and Charlemagne estabUshed the Spanish March.^ In 
this way he began that gradual expulsion of the Mohammedans 
from the peninsula which was to be carried on by slowly 
extending conquests until 1492, when Granada, the last 
Mohammedan stronghold, fell.^ 

32. But the most famous of all the achievements of Charlemagne 


Charlemagne was his reestablishment of the Western Empire emperor by 
in the year 800. It came about in this wise. Charlemagne 
went to Rome in that year to settle a controversy between 
Pope Leo III and his enemies. To celebrate the satisfactory 
adjustment of the dispute, the pope held a solemn service on 
Christmas day in St. Peter's. As Charlemagne was kneel- 
ing before the altar during this service, the pope approached 
him and set a crown upon his head, saluting him, amid the 
acclamation of those present, as " Emperor of the Romans." 

1 The Mohammedan state had broken up in the eighth century, and the 
ruler of Spain first assumed the title of emir (about 756) and later (929) that of 
cahph. The latter title had originally been enjoyed only by the head of the 
whole Arab empire, who had his capital at Damascus, and later at Bagdad. 

2 As Charlemagne was crossing the Pyrenees, on his way back from Spain, 
his rear guard was attacked in the Pass of Roncesvalles. The chronicle simply 
states that Roland, Count of Brittany, was slain. This episode, however, became 
the subject of one of the most famous of the epics of the Middle Ages, the Song 
of Roland. See below, § 99. 

3 Reference, for Charlemagne's conquests, Emerton, Iiiiroduction, Chaptef 
XIII; Oman, Dark Ages, Chapters XX-XXL 

the pope. 


History of Western Europe 

merited the 
title of 

Continuity of 
the Roman 

The reasons for this extraordinary act, which Charlemagne 
afterward persistently asserted took him completely by surprise, 
are given in one of the Prankish histories, the Chronicles of 
Lorsch, as follows : *' The name of Emperor had ceased among 
the Greeks, for they were enduring the reign of a woman 
[Irene], wherefore it seemed good both to Leo, the apostolic 
pope, and to the holy fathers [the bishops] who were in 
council with him, and to all Christian men, that they should 
name Charles, king of the Franks, as Emperor. For he held 
Rome itself, where the ancient Caesars had always dwelt, in 
addition to all his other possessions in Italy, Gaul and Geniiany. 
Wherefore, as God had granted him all these dominions, it 
seemed just to all that he should take the title of Emperor, too, 
when it was offered to him at the wish of all Christendom." 

Charlemagne appears to have accepted gracefully the honor 
thus thrust upon him. Even if he had no right to the impe- 
rial title, there was an obvious propriety and expediency in 
granting it to him under the circumstances. Before his coro- 
nation by the pope he was only king of the Franks and the 
Lombards ; but his conquests seemed to entitle him to a more 
comprehensive designation which should include his outlying 
dependencies. Then the imperial power at Constantinople 
had been in the hands of heretics, from the standpoint of the 
Western Church, ever since Emperor Leo issued his edict against 
the veneration of images. What was still worse, the throne had 
been usurped, shortly before the coronation of Charlemagne, 
by the wicked Irene, who had deposed and blinded her son, 
Constantine VI. The coronation of Charlemagne was, therefore, 
only a recognition of the real political conditions in the West.^ 

The empire now reestablished in the West was considered 
to be a continuation of the Roman Empire founded by 
Augustus. Charlemagne was reckoned the immediate suc- 
cessor of Constantine VI, whom Irene had deposed. Yet, in 

1 See Readings, Chapter VII, and Bryce, Holy Roman Empire, Chapter V. 

Charlemagne 8 5 

spite of this fancied continuity, it is hardly necessary to say 
that the position of the new emperor had Httle in common 
with that of Marcus AureUus or Constantine. In the first 
place, the eastern emperors continued to reign in Constanti- 
nople for centuries, quite regardless of Charlemagne and his 
successors. In the second place, the German kings who wore 
the imperial crown after Charlemagne were generally too weak 
really to rule over Germany and northern Italy, to say nothing 
of the rest of western Europe. Nevertheless, the Western 
Empire, which in the twelfth century came to be called the 
Holy Roman Empire, endured for over a thousand years. 
It came to an end only in 1806, when the last of the emperors, 
wearied of his empty if venerable title, laid down the crown. 

The assumption of the title of emperor was destined to The title of 
make the German rulers a great deal of trouble. It constantly source of 
led them into futile efforts to maintain a supremacy over German 
Italy, which lay without their natural boundaries. Then the 
circumstances under which Charlemagne was crowned made it 
possible for the popes to claim, later, that it was they who had 
transferred the imperial power from the old eastern line of 
emperors to the Carolingian house, and that this was a proof 
of their right to dispose of the crown as they pleased. The 
difficulties which arose necessitated many a weary journey to 
Rome for the emperors, and many unworthy conflicts between 
the temporal and spiritual heads of Christendom. 

33. The task of governing his vast and heterogeneous charie- 
dominions taxed even the highly gifted and untiring Charle- system of 
magne ; it quite exceeded the capacity of his successors. The 
same difficulties continued to exist that had confronted Charles 
Martel and Pippin, — above all a scanty royal revenue and over- 
powerful officials who were prone to neglect the interests and 
commands of their sovereign. Charlemagne's distinguished 
statesmanship is nowhere so clearly seen as in his measures 
for extending his control to the very confines of his realms. 


History of Western Europe 


Origin of 
titles of 

The missi 

His income, like that of all mediaeval rulers, came chiefly 
from his royal estates, as there was no system of general 
taxation such as had existed under the Roman Empire. He 
consequently took the greatest care that his numerous planta- 
tions should be well cultivated and that not even a turnip or 
an egg which was due him should be withheld. An elaborate 
set of regulations for his farms is preserved, which sheds much 
light upon the times. ^ 

The officials upon whom the Frankish kings were forced to 
rely chiefly were the counts, the " hand and voice of the king " 
wherever he could not be in person. They were to maintain 
order, see that justice was done in their district, and raise 
troops when the king needed them. On the frontier were 
the counts of the march, or margraves (marquises), already 
mentioned. These titles, together with that of duke, still 
exist as titles of nobility in Europe, although they are no 
longer associated with governmental duties except where their 
holders have the right to sit in the upper house of parliament. 

To keep the counts in order, Charlemagne appointed royal 
commissioners (the missi tfominid), whom he dispatched to 
all parts of his realm to investigate and report to him how 
things were going in the districts assigned to them. They 
were sent in pairs, a bishop and a layman, so that they might 
act as a check on one another. Their circuits were changed 
each year so that they should have no chance to enter into 
conspiracy with the counts whom it was their special business 
to watch. '^ 

The revival of the Roman Empire in the West made no 
difference in Charlemagne's system of government, except that 
he required all his subjects above twelve years of age to take 
a new oath of fidelity to him as emperor. He held important 

1 See extracts from these regulations, and an account of one of Charlemagne's 
farms, in Readitigs^ Chapter VII. 

2 For the capitulary relating to the duties of the missi, see Readings, Chap- 
ter VII. 

Charlemagne %j 

assemblies of the nobles and prelates each sprmg or summer, 
where the interests of the Empire were considered. With the 
sanction of his advisers, he issued an extraordinary series of 
laws, called capitularies, a number of which have been pre- 
served. With the bishops and abbots he discussed the needs 
of the Church, and above all the necessity of better schools for 
both the clergy and laity. The reforms which he sought to 
introduce give us an opportunity of learning the condition in 
which Europe found itself after four hundred years of disorder. 

34. Charlemagne was the first important king since The- The dark 
odoric to pay any attention to book learning, which had fared before char- 
badly enough since the death of Boethius, three centuries 
before. About 650 the supply of papyrus had been cut off, 
owing to the conquest of Egypt by the Arabs, and as paper 
had not yet been invented there was only the very expensive 
parchment to write upon. While this had the advantage of 
being more durable than papyrus, its cost discouraged the 
multiplication of copies of books. The eighth century, that 
immediately preceding Charlemagne's coronation, is declared 
by the learned Benedictine monks, in their great history of 
French literature, to have been the most ignorant, the darkest, 
and the most barbarous period ever seen, at least in France. 
The documents of the Merovingian period often indicate great 
ignorance and carelessness on the part of those who wrote 
them out. 

Yet, in spite of this dark picture, there was promise for the The elements 

^, , , . of learning 

future. It was evident, even before Charlemagne s time, preserved by 

• -. ^ • 1 . 1 ^ c the Church, 

that the world was not to continue indefinitely m the path 01 

ignorance. Latin could not be forgotten, for that was the 

language of the Church and all its official communications were 

in that tongue. The teachings of the Christian religion had to 

be gathered from the Bible and other books, and the church 

services formed a small Hterature by themselves. Consequently 

it was absolutely necessary that the Church should maintain 


Histoiy of Western Europe 

Two letters 
of Charle- 
the neglect 
of education 
among the 

some sort of education in order to perform its complicated 
services and conduct the extensive duties which devolved 
upon it. All the really efficient church officers, whatever their 
nationality, must have been able to read the Latin classics, if 
they were so incKned. Then there were the compilations of 
ancient knowledge already mentioned,^ which, incredibly crude 
and scanty as they were, kept up the memory of the past. 
They at least perpetuated the names of the various branches of 
knowledge and contained, for example, enough about arithmetic 
and astronomy to help the isolated churchman to calculate each 
year the date of Easter. 

Charlemagne was the first temporal ruler to realize the 
serious neglect of education, even among the clergy, and we 
have two interesting letters from him, written before he was 
made emperor, relating to this subject. In one to an important 
bishop, he says : " Letters have been written to us frequently 
in recent years from various monasteries, stating that the 
brethren who dwelt therein were offering up holy and pious 
supplications in our behalf. We observed that the sentiments 
in these letters were exemplary but that the form of expression 
was uncouth, because what true devotion faithfully dictated 
to the mind, the tongue, untrained by reason of neglect of 
study, was not able to express in a letter without mistakes. 
So it came about that we began to fear lest, perchance, as 
the skill in writing was less than it should be, the wisdom 
necessary to the understanding of the Holy Scriptures was also 
much less than was needful. We all know well that, although 
errors of speech are dangerous, errors of understanding are far 
more dangerous. Therefore, we exhort you not merely not 
to neglect the study of letters, but with a most humble mind, 
pleasing to God, earnestly to devote yourself to study, in 
order that you may be able the more easily and correctly 
to penetrate the mysteries of the Holy Scriptures." 
1 See above, p. 32. 

Charlemagne 89 

In the other letter he says : '' We have striven with watchful 
zeal to advance the cause of learning which has been almost 
forgotten through the negligence of our ancestors; and by 
our own example, we invite all those who can, to master the 
studies of the liberal arts. In this spirit, God aiding us, we 
have already carefully corrected all the books of the Old and 
New Testaments, corrupted by the ignorance of the copyists." 

uc-ntr*e Au^eurr^* Qfucwsw^ 

An Example of the Style of Writing used in the Books of 
Charlemagne's Time ^ 

1 These lines are taken from a manuscript written in 825, They form a part 
of a copy of Charlemagne's admonition to the clergy (789) mentioned below. 
The part here given is addressed to the bishops and warns them of the terrible 
results of disobeying the rules of the Church. Perhaps the scribe did not fully 
understand what he was doing, for he has made some of those mistakes which 
Charlemagne was so anxious to avoid. Then there are some abbreviations which 
make the lines difficult to read. They ought probably to have run as follows: 
. . . mereamim. Scit namqjie prnde^itia vestra, quain terribili anathematis 
censjira feriiintiir qtti praesnmptiose contra stattita universalimn concilioruni 
venire attdeant. Qitapropter et vos diligetttms aminonemus^ ut omni inte^ttione 
illiid horribile execrationis jitdichim . . . 


History of Western Europe 

ment of 
schools and 
the ' school 
of the 
palace . ' 

It seemed to Charlemagne that it was the duty of the 
Church not only to look after the education of its own officers 
but to provide the opportunity of at least an elementary 
education for the people at large. In accordance with this 
conviction, he issued (789) an admonition to the clergy to 
gather together the children both of freemen and serfs in 
their neighborhood and establish schools "in which the boys 
may learn to read." ^ 

It would be impossible to say how many of the innumerable 
abbots and bishops established schools in accordance with 
Charlemagne's recommendations. It is certain that famous 
centers of learning existed at Tours, Fulda, Corbie, Orleans, and 
other places during his reign. Charlemagne further promoted 
the cause of education by the establishment of the famous 
" school of the palace " for the instruction of the sons of his 
nobles and of his own children. He placed the Englishman, 
Alcuin, at the head of the school, and called distinguished men 
from Italy and elsewhere as teachers. The best known of 
these was the historian, Paulus Diaconus, who wrote a history 
of the Lombards, to which we owe most of what we know 
about them. 

Charlemagne appears to have been particularly impressed 
with the constant danger of mistakes in copying books, a task 
frequently turned over to ignorant and careless persons. After 
recommending the founding of schools, he continues : " Cor- 
rect carefully the Psalms, the signs used in music, the [Latin] 
grammar, and the religious books used in every monastery or 
bishopric ; since those who desire to pray to God properly 
often pray badly because of the incorrect books. And do not 
let your boys misread or miswrite them. If there is any need 
to copy the Gospel, Psalter or Missal, let men of maturity do 
the writing with great diligence." These precautions were 
amply justified, for a careful transmission of the literature 

1 See Readings, Chapter VII. 

Charlemagne 91 

of the past was as important as the attention to education. 
It will be noted that Charlemagne made no attempt to revive 
the learning of Greece and Rome. He deemed it quite suffi- 
cient if the churchmen would learn their Latin well enough to 
read the missal and the Bible intelligently. 

The hopeful beginning that was made under Charlemagne 
in the revival of education and intellectual interest was des- 
tined to prove disappointing in its immediate results. It is 
true that the ninth century produced a few noteworthy men 
who have left works which indicate acuteness and mental 
training. But the break-up of Charlemagne's empire, the 
struggles between his descendants, the coming of new bar- 
barians, and the disorder caused by the unruly feudal lords, 
who were not inclined to recognize any master, all conspired to 
keep the world back for at least two centuries more. Indeed, 
the tenth and the first half of the eleventh centuries seem, 
at first sight, little better than the seventh and eighth. Yet 
ignorance and disorder never were quite so prevalent after, as 
they were before, Charlemagne. 

General Reading. — The best life of Charlemagne in English is 
MoMBERT, A History of Charles the Great (D. C. Appleton & Co., 
;^5.oo). See also Hodgkin, Charles the Great (The Macmillan Com- 
pany, 75 cents), and West, Alcuin (Charles Scribner's Sons, ^i.oo). 



Louis the 
Pious suc- 
ceeds Char- 

of Charle- 
among the 
sons of Louis 
the Pious. 

35. It was a matter of great importance to the world 
whether Charlemagne's extensive empire was, after his death, 
to remain one or to fall apart. He himself appears to have 
had no expectation that it would hold together, for in 806 
he divided it up in a very arbitrary manner among his three 
sons. We do not know whether he was led thus to undo his 
Hfe's work simply because the older tradition of a division 
among the king's sons was as yet too strong to permit him to 
hand down all his possessions to his eldest son, or because he 
believed it would be impossible to keep together so vast and 
heterogeneous a realm. However this may have been, the 
death of his two eldest sons left only Louis, who succeeded 
his father both as king and emperor. 

Louis the Pious had been on the throne but a few years before 
he took up the all-important problem of determining what share 
each of his sons should have in the empire after his death. As 
they were far too ambitious to submit to the will of their father, 
we find no less than six different partitions between the years 
817 and 840. We cannot stop to trace these complicated 
and transient arrangements, or the rebellions of the undutiful 
sons, who set the worst possible example to the ambitious 
and disorderly nobles. On the death of Louis the Pious, in 
840, his second son, Louis the German, was in possession of 
Bavaria and had at various times been recognized as ruler of 
most of those parts of the empire now included in Germany. 
The youngest son, Charles the Bald, had all the western 


The Disruption of Charlemagne s Empire 93 

portion of the Frankish possessions, while Lothaire, the eldest, 
had been designated as emperor and ruled over Italy and the 
district lying between the possessions of the younger brothers. 
Charles and Louis promptly combined to resist the attempts 
of Lothaire to assert his superiority as emperor, and defeated 
him at Fontenay (84 1 ) . The treaty of Verdun, which followed, 
is one of the most memorable in the history of western Europe.'- 

Map of Treaty of Verdun 

In the neffotiations which led up to the treaty of Verdun Treaty of 

, , . 1 , Verdun, 843. 

there appears to have been entire agreement among the three 

parties that Italy should go to Lothaire, Aquitaine to Charles 
the Bald, and Bavaria to Louis the German. The real diffi- 
culty lay in the disposal of the rest of the empire. It seemed 
appropriate that the older brother, as emperor, should have, 
in addition to Italy, the center of the Frankish dominions, 

1 References for the reign of Louis the Pious, Henderson, Germany in the 
Middle Ages, Chapter VI ; Oman, Dark Ages, Chapter XXIII. 

94 History of Wester7i Europe 

including the capital, Aix-la-Chapelle. A state of the most 
artificial kind, extending from Rome to northern Holland, was 
thus created, which had no natural unity of language or custom. 
Louis the German was assigned, in addition to Bavaria, the 
country north of Lombardy and westward to the Rhine. As 
for Charles the Bald, his realm included a great part of what 
is France to-day, as well as the Spanish March and Flanders. 

36. The great interest of the treaty of Verdun lies in the 
tolerably definite appearance of a western and an eastern 
Frankish kingdom, one of which was to become France and 
the other Germany. In the kingdom of Charles the Bald the 
dialects spoken by the majority of the people were derived 
directly from the spoken Latin, and in time developed into 
Provencal and French. In the kingdom of Louis the German, 
on the other hand, both people and language were German. 
The narrow strip of country between these regions, which fell 
to Lothaire, came to be called Lotharii regnum, or kingdom of 
Lothaire.^ This name was* perverted in time into Lotharingia 
and, later, into Lorraine. It is interesting to note that this 
territory has formed a part of the debatable middle ground 
over which the French and Germans have struggled so obsti- 
nately down to our own day. 
The stras- We have a curious and important evidence of the difference 

of language just referred to, in the so-called Strasburg oaths 
(842). Just before the settlement at Verdun, the younger 
brothers had found it advisable to pledge themselves, in an 
especially solemn and public manner, to support one another 
against the pretensions of Lothaire. First, each of the two 
brothers addressed his soldiers in their own language, absolving 
them from their allegiance to him should he desert his brother. 
Louis then took the oath in what the chronicle calls the 
lingua' romana, so that his brother's soldiers might understand 
him, and Charles repeated his oath in the lingua teudisca for 

1 Named for Lothaire II. 

burg oaths. 

TJie Disruption of Charlemagne s Empire 95 

the benefit of Louis' soldiers.^ Fortunately the texts of both of 
these oaths have been preserved. They are exceedingly inter- 
esting and important as furnishing our earliest examples, except^ 
some lists of words, of the language spoken by the common 
people, which was only just beginning to be written. Probably 
German was very rarely written before this time, as all who 
could write at all wrote in Latin. The same is true of the old 

Map of Treaty of Mersen 

Romance tongue (from which modern French developed), 

which had already drifted far from the Latin. 

VI. When Lothaire died (8^0 he left Italy and the middle Newdivisions 

'^' \ oj; J jj-j of the empire 

kingdom to his three sons. By 870 two of these had died, corresponding 

° ^ ' to France, 

and their uncles, Charles the Bald and Louis the German, did Germany, 

. and Italy. 

not hesitate to appropriate the middle kingdom and divide it 

1 For the text and translation of the Strasburg oaths, see Emerton, Mediceval 
Europe, pp. 26-27, or Munro, Mediceval History, p. 20. A person famiUar with Latin 
and French could puzzle out a part of the oath in the lingua romana ; that in the 
Imgua teudisca would be almost equally intelligible to one familiar with German. 

g6 History of Western Europe 

between them by the treaty of Mersen. Italy was left to 

Lothaire's only surviving son, together with the imperial crown, 

^ which was to mean nothing, however, for a hundred years to 

come. The result was that, as early as 870, western Europe 

was divided into three great districts which corresponded with 

startling exactness to three important states of modern Europe, 

i.e., France, Germany, and Italy. 

The empire Louis the German was succeeded in the East-Frankish 

reunited kingdom by his son, Charles the Fat. In 884, owing to the 

the Fat, death of the sons and the grandsons of Charles the Bald, 

there was no one to represent his line except a child of 

five years. So the aristocracy of the West- Frankish^ kingdom 

invited Charles the Fat to become their king. In this way 

it came about that the whole empire of Charlemagne was 

reunited for two or three years under a single ruler.^ 

Charles the Charles the Fat was ill and proved an incompetent emperor, 

Fat and the . , 1 1 • 1 r • 1 

Northmen. entirely unequal to the serious task of governing and protecting 

his vast territories. His weakness was especially shown in his 

pusillanimous treaties with the Northmen. When Paris was 

making an heroic defense against them under its count, Odo, 

1 The following table will show the relationship of the descendants of 

Charlemagne : 

Charlemagne, d. 814 

Louis the Pious, d. 840 


Lothaire, d. 855 Louis the German, d. 876 Charles the Bald, d. 877 

Carloman, d. 880 Charles the Fat (deposed 887) 

Louis the Stammerer, d. 879 

Arnulf, d. 899 Louis, d. 882 Carloman, d. 884 Charles the Simple, d. 929* 
Louis the Child, d. 911. 

* Who was too young to be considered in 8S4, but afterwards became king of France 
and progenitor of the later Carolingian rulers. 

The Disruption of Charlemagne s Empire 97 

Charles, instead of marching at the head of an army to reUeve 
it, agreed to pay the invaders seven hundred pounds of silver 
if they would raise the siege. They were then permitted to 
take up their winter quarters far inland, in Burgundy, where 
they proceeded to burn and pillage at will. 

This degrading agreement so disgusted the West-Frankish Charles the 
,.,•11 11.- . ^ F^t deposed 

nobility that they were glad to join a conspiracy set on foot and sue- 
by Charles' nephew, the brave Arnulf of Carinthia, who had Arnuif. 
resolved to supplant his inefficient uncle. Charles was deposed 
and deserted by all his former supporters in 887. No one, 
except Napoleon, has ever again succeeded in bringing the 
eastern, western, and southern parts of Charlemagne's empire 
under his control, even for a brief period. Arnulf, although 
enjoying the title of emperor, could scarcely hope to be 
recognized as king in all parts of the Frankish empire. Even 
nominal unity was no longer possible. As one of the chroni- 
cles of the time puts it, " While Arnulf was frittering away his 
time, many little kingdoms grew up." 

In the West-Frankish territory the nobility of the north- Origin of the 

. . . kingdom of 

ern part chose Odo, the hero of the siege of Pans, as their Burgundy, 01 

king ; but in the south another enterprising nobleman. Count 
Boso of Vienne, succeeded in inducing the pope to crown 
him king of a certain district on the Rhone which included 
Provence. Immediately after Boso's death a large territory 
about the Lake of Geneva, which he had hoped to win 
for himself, became a separate kingdom under its own ruler. 
This region and that which Boso ruled to the south were later 
united into the kingdom of Burgundy, or, as it is often called, 

Even before the deposition of Charles the Fat, many of the 
counts and other important landowners began to take advan- 
tage of the weakness of their king to establish themselves as 
the rulers of the districts about them, although they did not 
assume the title of king. In the East-Frankish kingdom the 


History of Western Eujvpe 

Causes of 

Poor roads. 

Scarcity of 
money for 
paying gov- 
officers and 

New inva- 
sions,— the 
Slavs, Hun- 
garians, and 

various German peoples whom Charlemagne had managed to 
control, especially the Bavarians and Saxons, began to revive 
their old national independence. In Italy the disruption was 
even more marked than in the north.^ 

38. It is clear, from what has been said, that none of the 
rulers into whose hands the fragments of Charlemagne's empire 
fell, showed himself powerful and skillful enough to govern 
properly a great territory like that embraced in France or 
Germany to-day. The difficulties in the way of establishing 
a well-regulated state, in the modern sense of the word, 
were almost insurmountable. In the first place, it was well- 
nigh impossible to keep in touch with all parts of a wide realm. 
The wonderful roads which the Romans had built had gen- 
erally fallen into decay, for there was no longer a corps of 
engineers maintained by the government to keep them up 
and repair the bridges. In those parts of Charlemagne's 
possessions that lay beyond the confines of the old Roman 
Empire, the impediments to travel must have been still worse 
than in Gaul and on the Rhine ; there not even the vestiges 
of Roman roads existed. 

In addition to the difficulty of getting about, the king had 
to contend with the scarcity of money in the Middle Ages. 
This prevented him from securing the services of a great corps 
of paid officials, such as every government finds necessary 
to-day. Moreover, it made it impossible for him to support 
the standing army which would have been necessary to sup- 
press the constant insubordination of his officials and of the 
powerful and restless nobility, whose chief interest in life was 

The disintegration of the Frankish empire was hastened by 
the continued invasions from all sides. From the north — 
Denmark, Norway, and Sweden — came the Scandinavian 

1 Reference, Henderson, Germany in the Middle Ages, Chapter VII ; Oman, 
Dark Ages, Chapter XXV. 


TJie Disruption of Charlemagne s E^npire 99 

pirates, the Northmen.^ They were skillful and daring sea- 
men, who not only harassed the coast of the North Sea, but 
made their way up the rivers, plundering and burning towns 
inland as far as Paris. On the eastern boundary of the 
empire the Germans were forced to engage in constant war- 
fare with the Slavs. Before long the Hungarians, a savage 
race, began their terrible incursions into central Germany and 
northern Italy. From the south came the Saracens, who had 
got possession of Sicily (in 827), and terrorized southern 
Italy and France, even attacking Rome itself. 

30. In the absence of a powerful king with a well-organized Growing 

. power and 

army at his back, each district was left to look out for itself, independence 

Doubtless many counts, margraves, bishops, and other great landed pro- 
landed proprietors who were gradually becoming independent 
princes, earned the loyalty of the people about them by taking 
the lead in defending the country against its invaders and by 
establishing fortresses as places of refuge when the community 
was hard pressed. These conditions serve to explain why 
such government as continued to exist during the centuries 
following the deposition of Charles the Fat was necessarily 
carried on mainly, not by the king and his officers, but by the 
great landholders. The grim fortresses of the mediaeval lords, 
which appeared upon almost every point of vantage through- 
out western Europe during the Middle Ages, would not have 
been tolerated by the king, had he been powerful enough to 
destroy them. They plainly indicate that their owners were 
practically independent rulers. 

1 Reference, Munro, Mediccval History, pp. 34-39. The Northmen extended 
their expeditions to Spain, Italy, and even into Russia. In England, under the 
name of Danes, we find them forcing Alfred the Great to recognize them as the 
masters of northern England (878). The Norse pirates were often called vikings, 
from their habit of leaving their long boats in the vik, i.e., bay or inlet. A goodly 
number of the Northmen settled in Iceland, and our knowledge of their civilization 
and customs comes chiefly from the Icelandic sagas, or tales. Some of these 
are of great interest and beauty ; perhaps none is finer than The Story of Burnt 
Njal. This and others may be read in English. See Readings, Chapter VIII. 


History of Western Europe 

The landed 
and the 

When the traveler in France or Germany comes upon the 
picturesque ruins of a mediaeval castle, perched upon some 
rocky cliff, accessible from one side only, and commanding 
the surrounding country, he cannot but see that those massive 
walls, with their towers and battlements, their moat and draw- 
bridge, were never 
intended as a dwell- 
ing place for the 
peaceful household 
of a private citizen, 
but rather as the 
fortified palace of 
a ruler. We can 
picture the great 
hall crowded with 
armed retainers, 
who were ready to 
fight for the pro- 
prietor when he was 
disposed to attack 
a neighboring lord, 
and who knew that 
below were the 
dungeons to which 
the lord might send 
them if they ventured to rebel against his authority. 

In order to understand the position of the mediaeval noble 
and the origin of feudalism we must consider the situation of 
the great landowners. A large part of western Europe in the 
time of Charlemagne appears to have been divided up into 
great estates, resembling the Roman villas. Just how these 
originated we do not know. These estates, or manors^ as they 
were called, were cultivated mainly by serfs, who were bound to 
the land and were under the control of its proprietor. They 

Mediaeval Fortress, showing Moat and 

The Disruption of CJiarletnagne s Empire loi 

tilled such part of the estate as the owner reserved for his own 
particular use, and provided for his needs and their own with- 
out the necessity of buying much from the outside. When we 
speak of a mediaeval landowner we mean one who held one or 
more of these manors, which served to support him and left 
him free to busy himself fighting with other proprietors in the 
same position as himself.^ 

It had been common even before Charlemagne's time to immunities, 
grant to monasteries and churches, and even to individuals, an " 
extraordinary privilege which exempted their lands from the 
presence or visits of government officials. No public officer 
with the power to hear cases, exact fines, obtain lodging or 
entertainment for the king and his followers when traveling 
about, or make requisitions of any kind, was to enter the lands 
or villages belonging to the monastery or person enjoying the 
immunity. These exemptions were evidently sought with a 
view to getting rid of the exactions of the king's officials and 
appropriating the various fines and fees, rather than with the 
purpose of usurping governmental prerogatives. But the result 
was that the monasteries or individuals who were thus freed from 
the requisitions of the government were left to perform its func- 
tions, — not, however, as yet in their own right, but as repre- 
sentatives of the king.^ It is not hard to see how those who 
enjoyed this privilege might, as the central power weakened, 
become altogether independent. It is certain that a great 
many landowners who had been granted no exemption from 
the jurisdiction of the king's officers, and a great many of the 
officers themselves, especially the counts and margraves, gradu- 
ally broke away altogether from the control of those above 
them and became the rulers of the regions in which they 

1 An account of the manor will be given later, Chapter XVIII. 

2 See an example of an immunity granted by Charlemagne to a mon- 
astery, in Emerton, httroduction, pp. 246-249, also Munro, Mediceval History, 
p. 44. Other examples are given in the Readings, Chapter IX. 


History of Westerii Europe 

Tendency to 



Forces op- 
posed to dis- 
ruption, viz., 
partial sur- 
vival of royal 
and feu- 


The counts were in a particularly favorable position to usurp 
for their own benefit the powers which they were supposed to 
exercise for the king. Charlemagne had chosen his counts and 
margraves in most cases from the wealthy and distinguished 
famihes of his realms. As he had little money, he generally 
rewarded their services by grants of estates, which only served 
to increase their independence. They gradually came to look 
upon their office and their land as private property, and they 
were naturally disposed to hand it on to their sons after them. 
Charlemagne had been able to keep control of his agents by 
means of the missi. After his death his system fell into disuse 
and it became increasingly difficult to get rid of inefficient or 
rebellious officers. 

Yet we must not infer that the state ceased to exist alto- 
gether during the centuries of confusion that followed the 
break-up of Charlemagne's empire, or that it fell entirely 
apart into httle local governments independent of each other. 
In the first place, a king always retained some of his ancient 
majesty. He might be weak and without the means to enforce 
his rights and to compel his more powerful subjects to meet 
their obligations toward him. Yet he was, after all, the kingj 
solemnly anointed by the Church as God's representative on 
earth. He was always something more than a feudal lord. 
The kings were destined to get the upper hand before many 
centuries in England, France, and Spain, and finally in Italy 
and Germany, and to destroy the castles behind whose walls 
their haughty nobles had long defied the royal power. 

In the second place, the innumerable independent land- 
owners were held together by feudalism. One who had land 
to spare granted a portion of it to another person on condition 
that the one receiving the land should swear to be true to him 
and perform certain ser\'ices, — such as fighting for him, giving 
him counsel, and lending aid when he was in particular diffi- 
culties. In this way the relation of lord and vassal originated. 

TJie Disruption of Charlemagne s Empire 103 

All lords were vassals either of the king or of other lords, and 
consequently all were bound together by solemn engagements 
to be loyal to one another and care for one another's interests. 
Feudalism served thus as a sort of substitute for the state. 
Private arrangements between one landowner and another 
took the place of the weakened bond between the subject and 
his king. 

The feudal form of government and the feudal system of 
holding land are so different from anything with which we 
are now familiar that it is difficult for us to understand them. 
Yet unless we do understand them, a great part of the history 
of Europe during the past thousand years will be well-nigh 

1 Extracts from the chronicles of the ninth century illustrating the disorder of 
the period will be found in the Readings^ Chapter VIII. 



the out- 
growth of 
and earlier 

Conditions of 
in the later 

40. Feudalism was the natural outcome of the peculiar con- 
ditions which prevailed in western Europe during the ninth and 
tenth centuries. Its chief elements were not, however, newly 
invented or discovered at that period but were only combined 
in order to meet the demands of the times. It will be well, 
therefore, to consider briefly those customs in the later Roman 
Empire and among the invading Germans which suggest (i) 
the habit of the mediaeval landowner of granting his land to 
others in such a way that, while he retained the title, they 
became, to most intents and purposes, the real owners; and 
(2) the relation of lord and vassal. 

We have seen how, before the barbarian inroads, the small 
landowners in the Roman Empire had often found it to their 
advantage to give up the title to their land to more powerful 
neighboring proprietors.^ The scarcity of labor was such that 
the new owner, while extending the protection of his name over 
the land, was glad to permit the former owner to continue to 
till it, rent free, much as if it still belonged to him. With the 
invasions of the barbarians the lot of the defenseless small 
landholder became worse. He had a new resource, however, 
in the monasteries. The monks were dehghted to accept any 
real estate which the owner — for the good of his soul and to 
gain the protection of the saint to whom the monastery church 
was dedicated — felt moved to turn over to them on the under- 
standing that the abbot should permit the former owner to 

1 See above, p. 16. 

Feudalism 105 ^ 

continue to cultivate his fields. Though he no longer owned 
the land, he still enjoyed its products and had only to pay a 
trifling sum each year in recognition of the monastery's owner- 
ship.^ The use, or usufruct, of the land which was thus granted 
by the monastery to its former owner was called a bene/iciu7?i. The bene- 
The same term was applied to the numerous grants which 
churches made from their vast possessions for limited periods 
and upon various conditions. We also find the Frankish kings 
and other great landowners disposing of their lands in a similar 
fashion. The bene/icium forms the first stage in the develop- 
ment of mediaeval landowning. 

Side by side with the be?iejiciiim grew up another institution The origin of 
which helps to explain the relation of lord and vassal in later ship of lord 
times. Under the later Roman Empire the freeman who 
owned no land and found himself unable to gain a living might 
become the dependent of some rich and powerful neighbor, 
who agreed to feed, clothe, and protect him on condition that 
he should engage to be faithful to his patron, " love all that he 
loved and shun all that he shunned." ^ 

The invading Germans had a custom that so closely resem- The comi- 
bled this Roman one that scholars have found it impossible 
to decide whether we should attribute more influence to the 
Roman or to the German institution in the development of 
feudalism. We learn from Tacitus that the young German 
warriors were in the habit of pledging their fideUty to a popular 
chieftain, who agreed to support his faithful followers if they 
would fight at his side. The comitatus, as Tacitus named this 
arrangement, was not regarded by the Germans as a mere 

1 See an example of tliis form of grant in the seventh century in Readings, 
Chapter IX. The reader will also find there a considerable number of illustra- 
tions of feudal contracts, etc. 

2 See formula of "commendation," as this arrangement was called, in Read- 
ings, Chapter IX, The fact that the Roman imperial government forbade this 
practice under heavy penalties suggests that the local magnates used their 
retainers to establish their independence of the imperial taxgatherers and 
other government officials. 



History of Western Europe 

of the comi- 
tatus and the 
feudal land 

Gradual de- 
velopment of 

The fief. 

business transaction, but was looked upon as honorable alike to 
lord and man. Like the later relation of vassal and lord, it was 
entered upon with a solemn ceremony and the bond of fidelity 
was sanctioned by an oath. The obligations of mutual aid 
and support established between the leader and his followers 
were considered most sacred. 

While there was a great difference between the homeless 
and destitute fellow who became the humble client of a rich 
Roman landowner, and the noble young German warrior who 
sat at the board of a distinguished military leader, both of these 
help to account for the later feudal arrangement by which one 
person became the " man," or faithful and honorable depend- 
ent, of another. When, after the death of Charlemagne, men 
began to combine the idea of the comitatus with the idea of 
the benejicium, and to grant the usufruct of parcels of their land 
on condition that the grantee should be true, loyal, and helpful 
to them, that is, become their vassal, we may consider that the 
feudal system of landowning was coming into existence.-^ 

4 1 . Feudahsm was not established by any decree of a king or 
in virtue of any general agreement between all the landowners. 
It grew up gradually and irregularly without any conscious plan 
on any one's part, simply because it seemed convenient and 
natural under the circumstances. The owner of vast estates 
found it to his advantage to parcel them out among vassals who 
agreed to accompany him to war, attend his court, guard his 
castle upon occasion, and assist him when he was put to any 
unusually great expense. Land granted upon the terms 
mentioned was said to be " infeudated" and was called 2. fief. 
One who held a fief might himself become a lord by granting 
a portion of his fief to a vassal upon terms similar to those 
upon which he held of his lord or suzerain.^ This was called 

1 See Adams, Civilizaiion, pp. 207 sqq. 

2 Lord is domimcs, or seitior^ in mediaeval Latin. From the latter word the 
French seigneur is derived. Suzerain is used to mean the direct lord and also 
an overlord separated by one or more degrees from a subvassal. 

Feudalism 107 \ 

subinfeudation, and the vassal of a vassal was called a subvassal infeudation 
or subtenant. There was still another way in which the number fnfeudation. 
of vassals was increased. The owners of small estates were subvassaL 
usually in a defenseless condition, unable to protect them- 
selves against the insolence of the great nobles. They conse- 
quently found it to their advantage to put their land into the 
hands of a neighboring lord and receive it back from him as 
a fief. They thus became his vassals and could call upon him 
for protection. 

It is apparent, from what has been said, that, all through 
the Middle Ages, feudalism continued to grow, as it were, 
" from the top and bottom and in the middle all at once." 
(i) Great landowners carved out new fiefs from their domains 
and granted them to new vassals. (2) Those who held small 
tracts brought them into the feudal relation by turning them 
over to a lord or monastery, whose vassals they became. 
(3) Finally any lord might subinfeudate portions of his estate 
by granting them as fiefs to those whose fidelity or services 
he wished to secure. By the thirteenth century it had 
become the rule in France that there should be "no land 
without its lord." This corresponded pretty closely to the 
conditions which existed at that period throughout the whole 
of western Europe. 

It is essential to observe that the fief, unlike the benejicium, The heredi- 
1 /- • 1 r r -, -i- - 'ts-ry char- 

was not granted for a certam number of years, or for the lite acter of fiefs 

and its con- 
of the grantee, to revert at his death to the owner. On the sequences. 

contrary, it became hereditary in the family of the vassal and 
passed down to the eldest son from one generation to another. 
So long as the vassal remained faithful to his lord and per- 
formed the stipulated services, and his successors did homage 
and continued to meet the conditions upon which the fief had 
originally been granted, neither the lord nor his heirs could 
rightfully regain possession of the land. No precise date 
can be fixed at which it became customary to make fiefs 


History of Western Europe 

of the king 
not under his 

hereditary ; it is safe, however, to say that it was the rule in 
the tenth century.^ 

The kings and great nobles perceived clearly enough the 
disadvantage of losing control of their lands by permitting 
them to become hereditary property in the families of their 
vassals. But the feeling that what the father had enjoyed 
should pass to his children, who, otherwise, would ordinarily 
have been reduced to poverty, was so strong that all opposition 
on the part of the lord proved vain. The result was that little 
was left to the original and still nominal owner of the fief 
except the services and dues to which the practical owner, the 
vassal, had agreed in receiving it. In short, the fief came 
really to belong to the vassal, and only a shadow of his former 
proprietorship remained in the hands of the lord. Nowadays 
the owner of land either makes some use of it himself or leases 
it for a definite period at a fixed money rent. But in the Mid- 
dle Ages most of the land was held by those who neither really 
owned it nor paid a regular rent for it and yet who could not 
be deprived of it by the original owner or his successors. 

Obviously the great vassals who held directly of the king 
became almost independent of him as soon as their fiefs were 
granted to them in perpetuity. Their vassals, since they stood 
in no feudal relation to the king, escaped the royal control 
altogether. From the ninth to the thirteenth century the king 
of France or the king of Germany did not rule over a great 
realm occupied by subjects who owed him obedience as their 
lawful sovereign, paid him taxes, and were bound to fight under 
his banner as the head of the state. As a feudal landlord 

1 A relic of the time when fiefs were just becoming hereditary was preserved 
in the exaction by the lord of a certain due, called the relief. This payment was 
demanded from the vassal when one lord died and a new one succeeded him, and 
from a new vassal upon the death of his predecessor. It was originally the pay- 
ment for a new grant of the land at a time when fiefs were not generally held 
hereditarily. The right did not exist in the case of all fiefs and it varied greatly 
in amount. It was customarily much heavier when the one succeeding to the 
fief was not the son of the former holder but a nephew or more distant relative. 


Feudalism 1 09 

himself, he had a right to demand fideUty and certain ser- 
vices from those who were his vassals. But the great mass of 
the people over whom he nominally ruled, whether they belonged 
to the nobihty or not, owed little to the king directly, because 
they lived upon the lands of other feudal lords more or less 
independent of him. 

Enough has been said of the gradual and irregular growth 
of feudalism to make it clear that complete uniformity in 
feudal customs could hardly exist within the bounds of even a 
small kingdom, much less throughout the countries of western 
Europe. Yet there was a remarkable resemblance between 
the institutions of France, England, and Germany, so that a 
description of the chief features of feudahsm in France, where 
it was highly developed, will serve as a key to the general 
situation in all the countries we are studying. 

42. The ^^i {\^2X\n, feudufti) was the central institution of The fief the 
feudalism and the one from which it derives its name. In tutionof 
the commonest acceptance of the word, the fief was land, the 
perpetual use of which was granted by its owner, or holder, to 
another person, on condition that the one receiving it should 
become his vassal. The one proposing to become a vassal Homage, 
knelt before the lord and rendered him ho7?iage ^ by placing his 
hands between those of the lord and declaring himself the 
lord's "man" for such and such a fief. Thereupon the lord 
gave his vassal the kiss of peace and raised him from his kneel- 
ing posture. Then the vassal took the oath of fidelity upon the 
Bible, or some holy relic, solemnly binding himself to fulfill all 
his duties toward his lord. This act of rendering homage by 
placing the hands in those of the lord and taking the oath of 
fidelity was the first and most essential obligation of the vassal 
and constituted the feudal bond. For a vassal to refuse to do 
homage for his fief when it changed hands, was equivalent to 
a declaration of revolt and independence. 

1 Homage is derived from the Latin word for man, homo. 


History of Western Europe 

of the vassal. 

Money fiefs. 

Other feudal 

The obligations of the vassal varied greatly.^ Sometimes 
homage meant no more than that the vassal bound himself not 
to attack or injure his lord in honor or estate, or oppose his 
interests in any other manner. The vassal was expected to join 
his lord when there was a military expedition on foot, although 
it was generally the case that the vassal need not serv^e at his 
own expense for more than forty days. The rules, too, in 
regard to the length of time during which a vassal might be 
called upon to guard the castle of his lord varied almost infi- 
nitely. The shorter periods of military service proved very 
inconvenient to the lord. Consequently it became common in 
the thirteenth century for the king and the more important 
nobles to secure a body of soldiers upon whom they could rely 
at any time, and for any length of time, by creating money fiefs. 
A certain income was granted to a knight upon condition that 
the grantee should not only become a vassal of the lord but 
should also agree to fight for him whenever it was necessary. 

Besides the military service due from the vassal to his lord, 
he was expected to attend the lord's court when summoned. 
There he sat with other vassals to hear and pronounce upon 
those cases in which his peers — i.e., his fellow- vassals — were 
involved.^ Moreover, he had to give the lord the benefit 
of his counsel when required, and attend him upon solemn 

1 The conditions upon which fiefs were granted might be dictated either by 
interest or by mere fancy. Sometimes the most fantastic and seemingly absurd 
obligations were imposed. We hear of vassals holding on condition of attending 
the lord at supper with a tall candle, or furnishing him with a great yule log at 
Christmas. Perhaps the most extraordinary instance upon record is that of a 
lord in Guienne who solemnly declared upon oath, when questioned by the com- 
missioners of Edward I, that he held his fief of the king upon the following 
terms : When the lord king came through his estate he was to accompany him to 
a certain oak. There lie must have waiting a cart loaded with wood and drawn by 
two cows without any tails. When the oak was reached, fire was to be applied to 
the cart and the whole burned up " unless mayhap the cows make their escape." 

2 The feudal courts, especially those of the great lords and of the king 
himself, were destined to develop later into the centers of real government, with 
regular judicial, financial, and administrative bodies for the performance of 
political functions. 


1 1 

occasions. Under certain circumstances vassals had to make 
money payments to their lord, as well as serv^e him in person ; 
as, for instance, when the fief changed hands through the 
death of the lord or of the vassal, when the fief was alienated, 
when the lord was put to extra expense by the necessity of 
knighting his eldest son or providing a dowry for his daughter, 
or when he was in captivity and was held for a ransom. 
Lastly, the vassal might have to entertain his lord should the 


A Mediaeval Castle near Klagenfurt, Austria 

lord come his way. There are amusingly detailed accounts, 
in some of the feudal contracts, of exactly how often the lord 
might come, how many followers he might bring, and what he 
should have to eat. 

There were fiefs of all kinds and of all grades of importance, Different 
from that of a duke or count, who held directly of the king fiefs, 
and exercised the powers of a practically independent prince, 
down to the holding of the simple knight, whose bit of land, 


Histoiy of Western Europe 

The nobility. 

Their privi- 

Difficulty of 
the nobles. 


cultivated by peasants or serfs, was barely sufficient to enable 
him to support himself and provide the horse upon which he 
rode to perform his military service for his lord. 

In order to rank as a noble in mediaeval society it was, in 
general, necessary to be the holder of land for which only 
such services were due as were considered honorable, and none 
of those which it was customary for the peasant or serf to 
perform. The noble must, moreover, be a free man and have 
at least sufficient income to maintain himself and his horse 
without any sort of labor. The nobles enjoyed certain privi- 
leges which set them off from the non-noble classes. Many 
of these privileges were perpetuated in France, and elsewhere 
on the continent, down to the time of the French Revolution, 
and in Italy and Germany, into the nineteenth century. The 
most conspicuous privilege was a partial exemption from 

It is natural to wish to classify the nobility and to ask just 
what was the difference, for example, between a duke, a count, 
and a marquis. Unfortunately there was no fixed classifica- 
tion, at least before the thirteenth century. A count, for 
instance, might be a very inconspicuous person, having a fief 
no larger than the county of Charlemagne's time, or he might 
possess a great many of the older counties and rank in power 
with a duke. In general, however, it may be said that the 
dukes, counts, bishops, and abbots who held directly from 
the king were of the highest rank. Next to them came an 
intermediate class of nobles of the second order, generally 
subvassals of the king, and below these the simple knights. 

43. The great complexity of the feudal system of land 
tenure made it necessary for the feudal lords to keep careful 
registers of their possessions. Very few of these registers have 
been preserved, but we are so fortunate as to have one of the 
count of Champagne, dating from the early thirteenth century. 
This gives us an idea of vvhat feudalism really was in practice, 



and shows how impossible it is to make a satisfactory map of 
any country during the feudal period. 

At the opening of the tenth century we find in the chroni- 
cles of the time an account of a certain ambitious count of 
Troyes, Robert by name, who died in 923 while trying to 
wrest the crown of France from Charles the Simple. His 

Fiefs and Suzerains of the Counts of Champagne 

county passed to his son-in-law, who already held, among 
other possessions, the counties of Chateau-Thierry and Meaux. 
His son, in turn, inherited all three counties and increased 
his dominions by judicious usurpations. This process of 
gradual aggrandizement went on for generation after genera- 
tion, until there came to be a compact district under the 
control of the counts of Champagne, as they began to call 

Growth of 
the posses- 
sions of the 
counts of 
typical of 
the period. 


History of Western Europe 

The register 
of the counts 
of Cham- 
pagne illus- 
trates the 
of feudal 

themselves at the opening of the twelfth century. It was in 
this way that the feudal states in France and Germany grew up. 
Certain lines of feudal lords showed themselves able, partly by 
craft and violence, and partly, doubtless, by good fortune, to 
piece together a considerable district, in much the same way 
as we shall find that the king of France later pieced together 
France itself. 

The register referred to above shows that the feudal posses- 
sions of the counts of Champagne were divided into twenty- 
six districts, each of which centered about a strong castle. 
We may infer that these divisions bore some close relation to 
the original counties which the counts of Champagne had 
succeeded in bringing together. All these districts were held 
as fiefs of other lords. For the greater number of his fiefs the 
count rendered homage to the king of France, but he was 
the vassal of no less than nine other lords beside the king. A 
portion of his lands, including probably his chief town of 
Troyes, he held of the duke of Burgundy. Chatillon, l^per- 
nay, and some other towns, he held as the "man" of the 
Archbishop of Rheims. He was also the vassal of the Arch- 
bishop of Sens, of four other neighboring bishops, and of the 
abbot of the great monastery of St. Denis. To all of these 
persons he had pledged himself to be faithful and true, and 
when his various lords fell out with one another it must have 
been difficult to see where his duty lay. Yet his situation was 
similar to that of all important feudal lords. 

The chief object, however, of the register was to show not 
what the count owed to others but what his own numerous vas- 
sals owed to him. It appears that he subinfeudated his lands 
and his various sources of income to no ]ess than two thousand 
vassal knights. The purpose of the register is to record the 
terms upon which each of these knights held his fief. Some 
simply rendered the count homage, some agreed to serve him 
in war for a certain length of time each year, others to guard 

than land. 

Feudalism 1 1 5 

his castle for specified periods. A considerable number of the 
vassals of the count held lands of other lords, there being noth- 
ing to prevent a subvassal from accepting a fief directly from 
the king, or from any other neighboring noble landholder. So 
it happened that several of the vassals of the counts of Cham- 
pagne held of the same persons of whom the count himself 

It is evident that the counts of Champagne were not con- Theinfeu- 
tented with the number of vassals that they secured by sub- other things 
infeudating their land. The same homage might be rendered 
for a fixed income, or for a certain number of bushels of oats 
to be delivered each year by the lord, as for the use of land. 
So money, houses, wheat, oats, wine, chickens, were infeudated, 
and even half the bees which might be found in a particular 
forest. It would seem to us the simpler way to have hired 
soldiers outright, but in the thirteenth century the traditions 
of feudalism were so strong that it seemed natural to make 
vassals of those whose aid was desired. The mere promise 
of a money payment would not have been considered suffi- 
ciently binding. The feudal bond of homage served to make 
the contract firmer than it would otherwise have been. 

King of France 

Count of Champagne,^____y^/ Archb. of Rheims Archb. of Sens 

Subvassal / Subvassal Subvassal /Subvassal 

Subvassal Subvassal Subvassal 

The arrow indicates a lord of whom the vassal held one or more fiefs. 

Ii6 History of Western Europe 

It is clear, then, that no such regular hierarchy existed as 
some historians have imagined, beginning with the king and 
ending with the humblest knight included in the feudal aris- 
tocracy. The fact that vassals often held of a number of 
different lords made the feudal relations infinitely complex. 
The diagram on page 115, while it may not exactly corre- 
spond to the situation at any given moment, will serve to 
illustrate this complexity. 
The feudal 44. Should one confine one's studies of feudalism to the rules 

maintained laid down by the feudal lawyers and the careful descriptions of 
the exact duties of the vassal which are to be found in the con- 
tracts of the period, one might conclude that everything had 
been so minutely and rigorously fixed as to render the feudal 
bond sufficient to maintain order and liberty. But one has 
only to read a chronicle of the time to discover that, in reality, 
brute force governed almost everything outside of the Church. 
The feudal obligations were not fulfilled except when the lord 
was sufficiently powerful to enforce them. The bond of vassal- 
age and fidelity, which was the sole principle of order, was con- 
stantly broken and faith was violated by both vassal and lord.-^ 
The breaking It often happened that a vassal was discontented with his 
bond. lord and transferred his allegiance to another. This he had a 

right to do under certain circumstances, as, for instance, when 
his lord refused to see that justice was done him in his court. 
But such changes were generally made merely for the sake of 
the advantages which the faithless vassal hoped to gain. The 
records of the time are full of accounts of refusal to do homage, 
which was the commonest way in which the feudal bond was 
broken. So soon as a vassal felt himself strong enough to face 
his lord's displeasure, or realized that the lord was a helpless 
minor, he was apt to declare his independence by refusing to 

1 In the following description of the anarchy of feudalism, I merely condense 
Luchaire's admirable chapter on the subject in his Manuel des Instiiutions 
Fran^aises. The Readings, Chapters X, XII, XIII, XIV, furnish many exam- 
ples of disorder. 

Feudalism 1 1 7 

recognize the feudal superiority of the one from whom he had 
received his land. 

We may say that war, in all its forms, was the law of the war the 
feudal world. War formed the chief occupation of the restless feudal world, 
aristocracy who held the land and exercised the governmental 
control. The inveterate habits of a military race, the discord 
provoked by ill-defined rights or by self-interest and covetous- 
ness, all led to constant bloody struggles in which each lord 
had for his enemies all those about him. An enterprising 
vassal was likely to make war at least once, first, upon each of 
his several lords ; secondly, upon the bishops and abbots with 
whom he was brought into contact, and whose control he par- 
ticularly disliked ; thirdly, upon his fellow-vassals ; and lastly, 
upon his own vassals. The feudal bonds, instead of offering a 
guarantee of peace and concord, appear to have been a constant 
cause of violent conflict. Every one was bent upon profiting 
by the permanent or temporary weakness of his neighbor. This 
chronic dissension extended even to members of the same 
family ; the son, anxious to enjoy a part of his heritage immedi- 
ately, warred against his father, younger brothers against older, 
and nephews against uncles who might seek to deprive them 
of their rights. 

In theory, the lord could force his vassals to settle their dis- 
putes in an orderly and righteous manner before his court. But 
often he was neither able nor inclined to bring about a peaceful 
adjustment, and he would frequently have found it embarrassing 
to enforce the decisions of his own court. So the vassals were 
left to fight out their quarrels among themselves and found their 
chief interest in life in so doing. War was practically sanctioned 
by law. The great French code of laws of the thirteenth cen- 
tury and the Golden Bull, a most important body of law drawn 
up for Germany in 1356, did not prohibit neighborhood war, 
but merely provided that it should be conducted in a decent 
and gentlemanly way. 

1 1 8 History of Western Europe 

Tourneys The jousts, or tourneys, were military exercises — play wars — 

to fill out the tiresome periods which occasionally intervened 
between real wars.-^ They were, in fact, diminutive battles in 
which whole troops of hostile nobles sometimes took part. 
These rough plays called down the condemnation of the popes 
and councils, and even of the kings. The latter, however, were 
too fond of the sport themselves not to forget promptly their 
own prohibitions.^ 
Disastrous 45* The disastrous nature of the perpetual feudal warfare and 

feudal war- the necessity of some degree of peace and order, had already 
recognized ^ become apparent even as early as the eleventh century. 
In spite of all the turmoil, 'mankind was making progress. 
Commerce and enlightenment were increasing in the older 
towns and preparing the way for the development of new 
ones. Those engaged in peaceful pursuits could not but find 
the prevailing disorder intolerable. The Church was untiring, 
as it was fitting that it should be, in its efforts to secure peace ; 
and nothing redounds more to the honor of the bishops than the 
The ' Truce " Truce of God." This prohibited all hostilities from Thursday 
night until Monday morning, as well as upon all of the numerous 
fast days.^ The church councils and the bishops required the 
feudal lords to take an oath to observe the weekly truce, and, 
by means of the dreaded penalty of excommunication, met 
with some success. With the opening of the Crusades in 
1096, the popes undertook to effect a general pacification by 
diverting the prevailing warlike spirit against the Turks. 

At the same time the king, in France and England at least, 
was becoming a power that made for order in the modern 

1 The gorgeous affairs of the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries were but 
weak and effeminate counterparts of the rude and hazardous encounters of the 

2 References, for the mediaeval castle, the jousts, and the life of the nobles, 
Munro, Mediceval History, Chapter XIII, and Henderson, Shori History of Ger- 
many, pp. 111-121. 

3 See the famous " Truce of God " issued by the Archbishop of Cologne in 
1083, in Readings, Chapter IX. 

Feudalisin 1 1 9 

sense of the word. He endeavored to prevent the customary 
resort to arms to settle every sort of difficulty between rival 
vassals. By increasing the mihtary force that he had at his 
command he compelled the submission of cases of dispute to 
his tribunals. But even St. Louis (d. 1270), who made the 
greatest efforts to secure peace, did not succeed in accom- 
plishing his end. The gradual bettering of conditions was due 
chiefly to general progress and to the development of com- 
merce and industry, which made the bellicose aristocracy 
more and more intolerable. 

General Reading. — The older accounts of feudalism, such as that 
given by Guizot or Hallam, should be avoided as the reader is likely to 
be misled by them. The earlier writers appear, from the standpoint 
of recent investigations, to have been seriously mistaken upon many 
important points. In French, Luchaire, Manuel des Institutions 
Fraiifaises (Hachette «&: Co., Paris, ^3.00), and Esmein, Cours Elemen- 
taire d'' Histoire du Droit Fran^ais (^2.00), are excellent. 

In English there is Emerton's Chapter XIV on " Feudal Institu- 
tions " in his MedicBval Europe, and Adams, Civilization, Chapter IX, 
devoted especially to the origin of feudalism. Cheyney gives a selec- 
tion of documents relating to the subject in Translations and Reprints^ 
Vol. IV, No. 3. 



of studying 
the begin- 
nings of the 

between the 
and the house 
of Odo. 

46. There is no more interesting or important phase of 
mediaeval history than the gradual emergence of the modern 
national state from the feudal anarchy into which the great 
empire of Charlemagne fell during the century after his death. 
No one should flatter himself that he has grasped the elements 
of the history of western Europe unless he can trace in a clear, 
if general, way the various stages by which the states which 
appear now upon the map of Europe — the French republic, 
the German Empire, Austria-Hungary, and the kingdoms of 
Italy, Great Britain, and Spain — have grown out of the 
disorganized Europe of the ninth century. 

It might be inferred from what has been said in the pre- 
ceding chapters that the political history of western Europe 
during the two or three centuries following the deposition of 
Charles the Fat was really only the history of innumerable 
feudal lords. Yet even if the kings of mediaeval Europe were 
sometimes less powerful than some of their mighty subjects, still 
their history is more important than that of their vassals. It 
was the kings, and not their rivals, the dukes and counts, 
who were to win in the long run and to establish national 
governments in the modern sense of the term. It was about 
them that the great European states, especially France, Spain, 
and England, grew up. 

As we have seen, the aristocracy of the northern part of the 
West-Frankish kingdom chose (in 888) as their king, in place 
of the incompetent Charles the Fat, the valiant Odo, Count of 

TJie Developme7it of France 1 2 1 

Paris, Blois, and Orleans. He was a powerful lord and held 

extensive domains besides the regions he ruled as count. But, 

in spite of his advantageous position, he found it impossible to 

exert any real power in the southern part of his kingdom. Even 

in the north he met with constant opposition, for the nobles 

who elected him had no idea of permitting him to interfere 

much with their independence. Charles the Simple, the only 

surviving grandson of Charles the Bald,^ was eventually elected 

king by a faction opposed to Odo. 

For a hundred years the crown passed back and forth Election of 

between the family of Odo and that of Charlemagne. The the first of ' 

the Cape- 
counts of Paris were rich and capable, while the later Carolin- tians, 987-996. 

gians were poor and unfortunate. The latter finally succumbed 

to their powerful rivals, who definitely took possession of the 

throne in 987, when Hugh Capet was elected king of the Gauls, 

Bretons, Normans, Aquitanians, Goths, Spaniards, and Gascons, 

— in short, of all those peoples who were to be welded, under 

Hugh's successors, into the great French nation. 

Hugh inherited from his ancestors the title of Duke of Thewest- 

_ , • , 1 , 1 . 1 1 -I- • Prankish 

France, which they had enjoyed as the military representatives kingdom 
of the later Carolingian kings in " France," which was originally be called 
a district north of the Seine. Gradually the name France 
came to be appHed to all the dominions which the dukes of 
France ruled as kings. We shall hereafter speak of the West- 
Frankish kingdom as France. 

It must not be forgotten, however, that it required more Difficulty of 
than two centuries after Hugh's accession for the French kings the_royai 
to create a real kingdom which should include even half the 
territory embraced in the France of to-day. For almost 
two hundred years the Capetians made little or no progress 
toward real kingly power. In fact, matters went from bad to 
worse. Even the region which they were supposed to control 
as counts — their so-called domaift — melted away in their 

1 See genealogical table, above, p. 96. 



History of Western Europe 

of small 
states in 


hands. Everywhere hereditary Hnes of usurping rulers sprang 
up whom it was impossible to exterminate after they had once 
taken root. The Capetian territory bristled with hostile 
castles, permanent obstacles to commerce between the larger 
towns and intolerable plagues to the country people. In 
short, the king of France, in spite of the dignity of his title, 
no longer dared to move about his own narrow domain. He 
to whom the most powerful lords owed homage could not 
venture out of Paris without encountering fortresses con- 
structed by noble brigands, who were the terror alike of priest, 
merchant, and laborer. Without money or Soldiers, royalty 
vegetated within its diminished patrimony. It retained a cer- 
tain prestige in distant fiefs situated on the confines of the 
realm and in foreign lands, but at home it was neither obeyed 
nor respected. The enemy's lands began just outside the 

47. The tenth century was the period when the great fiefs 
of Normandy, Brittany, Flanders, and Burgundy took form. 
These, and the fiefs into which the older duchy of Aquitaine 
fell, developed into Uttle nations, each under its line of able 
rulers. Each had its own particular customs and culture, some 
traces of which may still be noted by the traveler in France. 
These little feudal states were created by certain families of 
nobles who possessed exceptional energy or statesmanship. 
By conquest, purchase, or marriage, they increased the number 
of their fiefs. By promptly destroying the castles of those 
who refused to meet their obligations, they secured their con- 
trol over their vassals. By granting fiefs of land or money 
to subvassals, they gained new dependents. 

Of these subnations none was more important or interest- 
ing than Normandy. The Northmen had been the scourge of 
those who lived near the North Sea for many years before one 
of their leaders, Rollo (or Hrolf ), agreed to accept from Charles 

1 Reference, Emerton, Mediceval Europe, pp. 405-420. Readings^ Chapter X. 

The D eve lop'^nent of France 123 

the Simple (in 911) a district on the coast, north of Brittany, 
where he and his followers might peacefully settle. Rollo 
assumed the title of Duke of the Normans and introduced the 
Christian religion among his people. For a considerable time 
the newcomers kept up their Scandinavian traditions and lan- 
guage. Gradually, however, they appropriated such culture as 
their neighbors possessed, and by the twelfth century their capi- 
tal, Rouen, was one of the most enHghtened cities of Europe. 
Normandy became a source of infinite perplexity to the French 
kings when, in 1066, Duke William the Conqueror added 
England to his possessions ; for he thereby became so powerful 
that his suzerain could hardly hope to control the Norman 
dukes any longer. 

The isolated peninsula of Brittany, inhabited by a Celtic Brittany, 
people of the same race as the early inhabitants of Britain, had 
been particularly subject to the attacks of the Scandinavian 
pirates. It seemed at one time as if the district would become 
an appendage of Normandy. But in 938 a certain valiant 
Alain of the Twisted Beard arose to deliver it from the oppres- 
sion of the strangers. The Normans were driven out, and 
feudahsm replaced the older tribal organization in what was 
hereafter to be called the duchy of Brittany. It was not until 
the opening of the sixteenth century that this became a part 
of the French monarchy. 

The pressure of the Northmen had an important result in the Origin of 

the Flemish 
low countries between the Somme and the Scheldt. The inhab- towns. 

itants were driven to repair and seek shelter in the old Roman 
fortifications. They thus became accustomed to living in close 
community, and it was in this way that the Flemish towns — 
Ghent, Bruges, etc. — originated, which became in time famous 
centers of industry and trade. The founders of the great fami- 
lies of the district first gained their influence in defending 
the country against the Scandinavian pirates. The counts 
of Flanders aspired to rule the region, but the lesser counts 


History of Western Etiivpe 


of the duke 
of Aquitaine 
and of the 
counts of 
Toulouse and 

position of 
the Capetian 

within their territory were pretty independent of them ; so 
private wars were frequent and bloody. 

Burgundy is a puzzling name because it is applied to several 
different parts of the territory once included in the kingdom 
founded by the Burgundians, which Clovis made tributary to his 
expanding Frankish kingdom. Toward the end of the ninth 
century we first hear of a duke of Burgundy as being appointed 
military representative of the king (as all dukes originally 
were) in a large district west of the Saone. The dukes of 
Burgundy never succeeded in establishing sufficient control 
over their vassals to render themselves independent, and con- 
sequently they always freely recognized the sovereignty of the 
French kings. We shall meet the name Burgundy later. 

The ancient duchy of Aquitaine (later Guienne), including 
a large part of what is now central and southern France, was 
abolished in 877, but the title of Duke of Aquitaine was con- 
ferred by the king upon a certain family of feudal lords, who 
gradually extended their power over Gascony and northward. 
To the southeast, the counts of Toulouse had begun to consoli- 
date a Httle state which was to be the seat of the extraordinary 
literature of the troubadours. The county of Champagne has 
already been considered in the discussion of feudaHsm. 

This completes the survey of the countries over which Hugh 
Capet and his immediate successors strove to rule. All those 
districts to the east of the Saone and the Rhone which now 
form a part of France were amalgamated (in 933) into the 
kingdom of Aries, or Burgundy,^ which in 1032 fell into the 
hands of the German king. 

48. The position of the Capetian rulers was a complicated 
one. As counts of Paris, Orleans, etc., they enjoyed the ordi- 
nary rights of a feudal lord ; as dukes of France, they might 
exercise a vague control over the district north of the Seine ; 

1 Not to be confounded -"vith the dtichy of Burgundy just referred to. See 
p. 97, above. 

The Development of France 125 

as suzerains of the great feudal princes, — the duke of Nor- 
mandy, the counts of Flanders, Champagne, and the rest, — 
they might require homage and certain feudal services from 
these great personages. But besides all these rights as feudal 
lords they had other rights as kings. They were crowned and 
consecrated by the Church, as Pippin and Charlemagne had 
been. They thus became, by God's appointment, the protectors 
of the Church and the true fountain of justice for all who were 
oppressed or in distress throughout their realms. Therefore 
they were on a higher plane in the eyes of the people than any 
of the great vassals. Besides the homage of their vassals, they 
exacted an oath of fidelity from all whom they could reach. 

The great vassals, on the other hand, acted on the theory 
that the king was simply their feudal lord. As for the king 
himself, he accepted both views of his position and made use 
both of the older theory of kingship and of his feudal suzerainty 
to secure more and more control over his realms. For over 
three hundred years the direct male line of the Capetians never 
once failed. It rarely happened, moreover, that the crown 
was left in the weak hands of a child. By the opening of the 
fourteenth century there was no doubt that the king, and not 
the feudal lords, was destined to prevail. 

The first of the kings of France to undertake with success Louis the 
the serious task of conquering his own duchy was Louis the Fat 1137'. 
(1108-1137). He was an active soldier and strove to keep 
free the means of communication between the different centers 
of his somewhat scattered feudal domains and to destroy the 
power of the usurping castellans in his fortresses. But he made 
only a beginning: it was reserved for his famous grandson, Philip 


PhiHp Augustus (i 180-1223), to make the duchy of France 1180-1223.' 

into a real kingdom. 

40. Philip had a far more difficult problem to face than any The pian- 

tagenets in 
of the preceding kings of his house. Before his accession a France. 

^ ^ ^ , . , Henry II. 

series of those royal marriages which until recently exercised 

126 History of Western Europe 

so great an influence upon political history, had brought most 
of the great fiefs of central, western, and southern France into 
the hands of the king of England, Henry II, who now ruled 
over the most extensive realm in western Europe. Henry II 
was the son of William the Conqueror's granddaughter Matilda,^ 
who had married one of the great vassals of the French kings, 
the count of Anjou and Maine.^ Henry, therefore, inherited 
through his mother all the possessions of the Norman kings of 
England, — namely, England, the duchy of Normandy, and the 
suzerainty over Brittany, — and through his father the counties 
of Maine and Anjou. Lastly, through his own marriage with 
Eleanor, the heiress of the dukes of Guienne (as Aquitaine 
was now called), he possessed himself of pretty much all of 
southern France, including Poitou and Gascony. Henry II, in 
spite of his great importance in English history, was as much 
French as English, both by birth and sympathies, and gave more 
than half his time and attention to his French possessions. 
Philip and It thus came about that the king of France suddenly found 

enets.^° ^^" a new and hostile state, under an able and energetic ruler, 
erected upon his western borders. It included more than 
half the territory in which he was recognized as king. The 
chief business of PhiHp's life was an incessant war upon the 
Plantagenets, in which he was constantly aided by the strife 
among his enemies themselves. Henry II divided his French 
possessions among his three sons, Geoffrey, Richard, and John, 
delegating to them such government as existed. Philip took 
advantage of the constant quarrels of the brothers among 
themselves and with their father. He espoused, in turn, the 
cause of Richard the Lion-Hearted against his father, of John 
Lackland, the youngest brother, against Richard, and so on. 
Without these family discords the powerful monarchy of the 

1 See genealogical table and map of the Plantagenet possessions, pp. 140-141, 

2 Henry's family owes its name, Plantagenet, to the habit that his father, 
Geoffrey of Anjou, had of wearing a bit of broom {planta genista) in his helmet 
on his crusading expeditions. 

TJie Developvient of France 1 27 

Plantagenets might have annihilated the royal house of France, 
whose narrow dominions it closed in and threatened on all sides. 

So long as Henry II lived there was little chance of expel- Richard 
ling the Plantagenets or of greatly curtailing their power, but Hearted, 
with the accession of his reckless son, Richard I, called the 
Lion-Hearted,^ the prospects of the French king brightened 
wonderfully. Richard left his kingdom to take care of itself, 
while he went upon a crusade to the Holy Land. He per- 
suaded Philip to join him, but Richard was too overbearing 
and masterful, and Philip too ambitious, to make it possible for 
them to agree for long. The king of France, who was physi- 
cally delicate, was taken ill and was glad of the excuse to 
return home and brew trouble for his powerful vassal. When 
Richard himself returned, after several years of romantic but 
fruitless adventure, he found himself involved in a war with 
Philip, in the midst of which he died. 

Richard's younger brother, John, who enjoys the reputation John loses 

r ^ • , 1 . , , ,- x^ ,. , , • 1 , the French 

of bemg the most despicable of Enghsh kings, speedily gave possessions 

Philip a good excuse for seizing a great part of the Plantagenet 
lands. John was suspected of conniving at the brutal murder 
of his nephew Arthur (the son of Geoffrey), to whom the nobles 
of Maine, Anjou, and Touraine had done homage. He was 
also guilty of the less serious offense of carrying off and marry- 
ing a lady betrothed to one of his own vassals. Philip, as 
John's suzerain, summoned him to appear at the French court 
to answer the latter charge. Upon John's refusal to appear or 
to do homage for his continental possessions, Philip caused his 
court to issue a decree confiscating almost all of the Plan- 
tagenet lands, leaving to the English king only the southwest 
corner of France. 

Philip found Httle difficulty in possessing himself, not only 
of the valley of the Loire, but of Normandy itself, which 

1 Geoffrey, the eldest of the three sons of Henry II mentioned above, died 
before his fathe' 

of his house. 


History of Western Europe 

the royal 
power as well 
as increases 
the royal 


Louis IX, 

showed no disinclination to accept him in place of the Plan- 
tagenets, whom the Normans associated with continual exac- 
tions. Six years after Richard's death the English kings had 
lost all their continental fiefs except Guienne. The Capetian 
domain was, for the first time, the chief among the great feudal 
states of France, both in wealth and extent. It should be 
observ'ed that Philip, unlike his ancestors, was no longer merely 
suzeraifi of the new conquests, but was himself duke of 
Normandy, and count of Anjou, of Maine, etc. The bound- 
aries of his domain, that is, the lands which he himself 
controlled directly as feudal lord, now extended to the sea. 

50. Philip not only greatly increased the extent of the 
royal domain, but strengthened his control over all classes of 
his subjects as well. He appears, also, to have fully realized 
the importance of the towns which had begun to develop a 
century earlier. There were several important ones in the dis- 
tricts he annexed, and these he took especial pains to treat 
with consideration. He extended his protection, and at the 
same time his authority, over them and in this way lessened 
the influence and resources of the feudal lords within whose 
territories the towns lay. 

The chief innovation of Philip's son, Louis VHI, was the 
creation of appanages. These were fiefs assigned to his 
younger sons, one of whom was made count of Artois ; another, 
count of Anjou and Maine ; a third, count of Auvergne. This 
has generally been regarded by historians as a most unfortu- 
nate reenforcement of the feudal idea. It not only retarded 
the consolidation of the kingdom but opened the way to new 
strife between the members of the royal family itself. 

The long reign of Philip's grandson, Louis IX, or St. 
Louis ( 1 226-1 2 70), is extremely interesting from many stand- 
points. St. Louis himself is perhaps the most heroic and 
popular figure in the whole procession of French monarchs, 
and his virtues and exploits have been far more amply recorded 

Map of France at the Close of the Reign of Philip Augustus 


Histoiy of Western Europe 

Settlement of 
question of 
the English 
king's pos- 
sessions in 
France, 1258. 

The baiUis 
serve to 
increase the 

of Louis IX. 

than those of any of his predecessors. But it is only his part 
in the consolidation of the French monarchy that immediately 
concerns us. After a revolt of the barons of central France 
in alliance with the king of England, which Louis easily put 
down, he proceeded, in a most fair-minded and Christian spirit, 
to arrange a definite settlement with the Plantagenets. The 
king of England was to do him homage for the duchy of 
Guienne, Gascony, and Poitou and surrender every claim upon 
the rest of the former possessions of the Plantagenets on the 

Besides these important territorial adjustments, Louis IX 
did much to better the system of government and strengthen 
the king's power. Philip Augustus had established a new 
kind of officer, the baillis, who resembled the missi of Charle- 
magne. They were supported by a salary and frequently 
shifted from place to place so that there should be no 
danger of their taking root and establishing powerful feudal 
families, as had happened in the case of the counts, who were 
originally royal officers. Louis adopted and extended the 
institution of the baillis. In this way he kept his domains 
under his control and saw that justice was done and his 
revenue properly collected. 

Before the thirteenth century there was little government in 
France in the modern sense of the word. The king relied for 
advice and aid, in the performance of his simple duties as 
ruler, upon a council of the great vassals, prelates, and others 
about his person. This council was scarcely organized into 
a regular assembly, and it transacted all the various kinds of 
governmental business without clearly distinguishing one kind 
from another. In the reign of Louis IX this assembly began 
to be divided into three bodies with different functions. 
There was : first, the king's council to aid him in conducting 
the general affairs of the kingdom ; secondly, a chamber of 
accounts, a financial body which attended to the revenue ; and 

The Development of France 131 

lastly, the parlement, a supreme court made up of those 
trained in the law, which was becoming ever more complicated 
as time went on. Instead, as hitherto, of wandering about 
with the king, the parlement took up its quarters upon the 
little island in the Seine at Paris, where the great court-house 
(^Palais de Justice) still stands. A regular system of appeals 
from the feudal courts to the royal courts was established. This 
served greatly to increase the king's power in distant parts of 
his realms. It was decreed further that the royal coins should 
alone be used in the domains of the king, and that his money 
should be accepted everywhere else within the kingdom con- 
currently with that of those of his vassals who had the privilege 
of coinage. 

The grandson of St. Louis, Philip the Fair, is the first Philip the 
example of a French king who had both the will and the means 1314) the first 
to play the role of an absolute monarch. He had inherited of France, 
a remarkably well organized government compared with any- 
thing that had existed since the time of Charlemagne. He 
was surrounded by a body of lawyers who had derived their 
ideas of the powers and rights of a prince from the Roman 
law. They naturally looked with suspicion upon everything 
that interfered with the supreme power of the monarch, and 
encouraged the king to bring the whole government into his 
own hands regardless of the privileges of his vassals and of 
the clergy. 

PhiUp's attempt to force the clergy to contribute from their The com- 

1 , , , mons, or 

wealth to the support of the government led to a remarkable third estate, 
^ ^ ° ... summoned to 

Struggle with the pope, of which an account will be given in the Estates 

^^ 1 1 > to General, 1302. 

a later chapter. With the hope of gaining the support of 

the whole nation in his conflict with the head of the Church, 

the king summoned a great council of his realm in 1302. He 

included for the first time the representatives of the towns in 

addition to the nobles and prelates, whom the king had long 

been accustomed to consult. At the same period that the 

132 History of Western Europe 

French Estates General,^ or national assembly, was taking 
form through the addition of representatives of the commons, 
England was creating its Parliament. The two bodies were, 
however, to have a very different history, as will become clear 

By the sagacious measures that have been mentioned, the 
French monarchs rescued their realms from feudal disruption 
and laid the foundation for the most powerful monarchy of 
western Europe. However, the question of how far the neigh- 
boring king across the Channel should extend his power on 
the continent remained unanswered. The boundary between 
France and England was not yet definitely determined and 
became, during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, the cause 
of long and disastrous wars, from which France finally emerged 
victorious. We must now turn back to trace the development 
of her English rival.^ 

1 The Estates General were so called to distinguish a general meeting of the 
representatives of the three estates of the realm from a merely local assembly of 
the provincial estates of Champagne, Provence, Brittany, Languedoc, etc. There 
are some vague indications that Philip had called in a few townspeople even 
earlier than 1302. 

2 For the French monarchy as organized in the thirteenth century, see 
Emerton, MedicEval Europe, pp. 432-433; Adams, Civilization, pp. 311-328. 



51, The country of western Europe whose history is of importance 

„ , . , , . , . r of England in 

greatest interest to Enghsh-speakmg peoples is, of course, the history 

England. From England the United States and the vast Europe. 
English colonies have inherited their language and habits of 
thought, much of their literature, and many peculiarities of 
their laws and institutions. In this volume it will not, how- 
ever, be possible to study England except in so far as it has 
played a part in the general development of Europe. This 
it has greatly influenced by its commerce, industry, and colo- 
nies, as well as by the example it has set of permitting the 
people to participate with the king in the government. 

The conquest of the island of Britain by the German Angles Overiordship 

of Wessex. 
and Saxons has already been spoken of, as well as the conver- 
sion of these pagans to Christianity by the representatives of 
the Roman Church. The several kingdoms founded by the 
invaders were brought under the overiordship of the southern 
kingdom of Wessex^ by Egbert, a contemporary of Charle- 
magne. But no sooner had the long-continued invasions of invasions of 
, ^ -, 1 , , -1, the Danes, 

the Germans come to an end and the country been partially Their defeat 

. , ,, 1 by Alfred the 
unified, than the Northmen (or Danes, as the English called Great, 871- 

them), who were ravaging France, began to make incursions 
into England. Before long they had made permanent settle- 
ments and conquered a large district north of the Thames. 
They were defeated, however, in a great battle by Alfred the 

1 In spite of the final supremacy of the West Saxons of Wessex, the whole 
land took its name from the more numerous Angles. 



History of Western Europe 

Alfred fosters 
the develop- 
ment of the 

England from 
the death of 
Alfred the 
Great to the 

Great, the first English king of whom we have any satisfactory 
knowledge. He forced the Danes to accept Christianity and 
established, as the boundary between them and his own king- 
dom of Wessex, a line running from London across the island 
to Chester. 

Alfred was as much interested in education as Charlemagne 
had been. He called in learned monks from the continent and 
from Wales as teachers of the young men. He desired that all 
those born free, who had the means, should be forced to learn 
EngUsh thoroughly, and that those who proposed to enter the 
priesthood should learn Latin as well. He himself translated 
Boethius' Consolatmi of Philosophy and other works from the 
Latin into EngHsh, and doubtless encouraged the composition 
of the famous Afiglo- Saxon Ch?'onide, the first history written 
in a modern language.^ 

The formation of the kingdoms of Denmark, Sweden, and 
Norway at the end of the ninth century caused many discon- 
tented Scandinavian chieftains to go in search of adventure, so 
that the Danish invasions continued for more than a century 
after Alfred's death (901), and we hear much of the Danegeld, 
a tax levied to buy off the invaders when necessary. Finally 
a Danish king (Cnut). succeeded in making himself king of 
England in 1017. The Danish dynasty maintained itself only 
for a few years. Then a last weak Saxon king, Edward the 
Confessor, held nominal sway for a score of years. Upon his 
death in 1066, William, Duke of Normandy, claimed the crown 
and became king of England. The Norman Conquest closes 
what is called the Saxon period of English history, during which 
the English nation may be said to have taken form. Before 
considering the achievements of William the Conqueror we 
must glance at the condition of England as he found it. 

1 References, Green, Short History of the English People (revised edition. 
Harper & Brothers), pp. 48-52 ; extracts from the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle may 
be found in Readings, Chapter XI. 

England in the Middle Ages 1 3 5 

The map of Great Britain at the accession of William the Great Britain 
Conqueror has the same three great divisions which exist sionof 
to-day. The little kingdoms had disappeared and England conqueror.^ 
extended north to the Tweed, which separated it, as it now 
does, from the kingdom of Scotland. On the west was Wales, 
inhabited then, as it is still, by descendants of the native 
Britons, of whom only a small remnant had survived the Ger- 
man invasions. The Danes had been absorbed into the mass 
of the population and all England recognized a single king. 
The king's power had increased as time went on, although he 
was bound to act in important matters only with the consent 
of a council (Witenagemot) made up of high royal officials, 
bishops, and nobles. The kingdom was divided into shires,^ 
as it still is, and each of these had a local assembly, a sort of 
parliament for the dispatch of local matters. 

After the victory of the papal party at the Council of 
Whitby,^ the Church had been thoroughly organized and the 
intercourse of the clergy with the continent served, as we have 
seen, to keep England from becoming completely isolated. 
Although the island was much behind some other portions of 
Europe in civilization, the English had succeeded in laying 
the foundations for the development of a great nation and an 
admirable form of government. 

England was not, however, to escape feudahsm. The Nor- Feudalism 

in England, 

mans naturally brought with them their own feudal institutions, 
but even before their coming many suggestions of feudahsm 
might have been discovered. Groups of shires had been 
placed under the government of earls who became dangerous 
rivals of the kings ; and the habit of giving churchmen the right 
to govern, to a large extent, those who lived upon their vast 
estates recalls the conditions in the Frankish empire during 

1 The shires go back at least as far as Alfred the Great, and many of their 
names indicate that they had some relation to the earlier little kingdoms, e g., 
Sussex, Essex, Kent, Northumberland. 

2 See above, p. 62. 


History of Western Etcrope 

The struggle 
for the Eng- 
lish crown 
between Earl 
Harold and 
Duke Wil- 
liam of 

The pope 
favors Wil- 
liam 's claim. 

Battle of 
Senlac, 1066. 
William I 
crowned at 

the same period. The great landed proprietor in England 
exercised much the same powers over those about him that 
the feudal lords enjoyed upon the other side of the Channel. 

52. As has been said, William of Normandy claimed that he 
was entitled to the English crown ; he even assumed that all 
who refused to acknowledge him in England were traitors. We 
are, however, somewhat in the dark as to the basis of his claim. 
There is a story that he had visited the court of Edward the 
Confessor and had become his vassal on condition that, should 
Edward die childless, he was to designate William as his suc- 
cessor. But Harold, Earl of Wessex, who had consolidated his 
power before the death of Edward by securing the appointment 
of his brothers to three of the other great earldoms, assumed 
the crown and paid no attention to William's demand that he 
should surrender it. 

William thereupon appealed to the pope, promising that if 
he came into possession of England, he would see that the 
English clergy submitted to the authority of the Roman 
bishop. Consequently the pope, Alexander II, condemned 
Harold and blessed in advance any expedition that William 
might undertake to assert his rights. The conquest of Eng- 
land therefore took on the character of a sort of holy war, 
and as the expedition had been well advertised, many adven- 
turers flocked to William's standard. The Norman cavalry 
and archers proved superior to the English forces, who were 
on foot and were so armed that they could not fight to advan- 
tage except at close range. Harold was killed in the memora- 
ble battle of Senlac ^ and his army defeated. In a few weeks 
a number of influential nobles and several bishops agreed to 
accept WilHam as their king, and London opened its gates to 
him. He was crowned on Christmas day, 1066, at Westminster. 

We cannot trace the history of the opposition and the revolts 
of the great nobles which WilHam had to meet within the 

1 Often called the battle of Hastings from the neighboring town of that name. 

England in the Middle Ages 1 3 7 

next few years. His position was rendered doubly difficult 
by troubles which he encountered on the continent as duke of 
Normandy. Suffice it to say that he succeeded in maintaining 
himself against all his enemies.-^ 

William's policy in regard to England exhibited profound William's 
statesmanship. He introduced the Norman feudalism to which in England, 
he was accustomed, but took good care that it should not weaken 
his power. The EngUsh who had refused to join him before the 
battle of Senlac were declared traitors, but were permitted to 
keep their lands upon condition of receiving them from the king 
as his vassals. The lands of those who actually bore arms against 
him at Senlac, or in later rebellions, including the great estates 
of Harold's family, were confiscated and distributed among his 
faithful followers, both Norman and English, though naturally 
the Normans among them far outnumbered the English. 

William declared that he did not propose to change the He insures 
English customs but to govern as Edward the Confessor, the acy of the 
last Saxon king whom he acknowledged, had done. He tried o^xt interfer- 
to learn English, maintained the Witenagemot, and observed English 
English practices. But he was a man of too much force 
to submit to the control of his people. While he appointed 
counts or earls in some of the shires (now come to be called 
counties), he controlled them by means of other royal officers 
called sheriffs. He avoided giving to any one person a great 
many estates in a single region, so that no one should 
become inconveniently powerful. Finally, in order to secure 
the support of the smaller landholders and to prevent combina- 
tions against him among the greater ones, he required every 
landholder in England to take an oath of fideHty directly to 

him. We read in the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle (1086) : ''After William 

, - , . requires oath 

that he went about so that he came, on the first day of of fidelity 

from his 

August, to SaHsbury, and there came to him his wise men subvassais. 

1 For contemporaneous accounts of William's character and the relations of 
Normans and English, see Colby, Sources, pp. 33-36, 39-41 ; Readings, Ch. XI. 


History of Western Europe 


William the 
and the 

results of 
the Norman 

[i.e., counselors], and all the land-owning men of property 
there were over all England, whosesoever men they were ; and 
all bowed down to him and became his men, and swore oaths 
of fealty to him that they would be faithful to him against all 
other men." 

William's anxiety to have a complete knowledge of his 
whole kingdom is indicated by a remarkable historical docu- 
ment, the so-called Domesday Book. This is a register of the 
lands throughout England, indicating the value of each parcel, 
the serfs and stock upon it, the name of its holder and of the 
person who held it before the Conquest. This government 
report contained a vast amount of information which was likely 
to prove useful to William's taxgatherers. It is still valuable 
to the historian, although unfortunately he is not able in every 
case to interpret its terms satisfactorily. 

William's policy in regard to the Church indicates a desire 
to advance its interests in conjunction with his own. He 
called Lanfranc, an Italian who had been at the head of the 
famous monastery of Bee in Normandy, to the archbishopric 
of Canterbury. The king permitted the clergy to manage their 
own affairs and established bishops' courts to try a variety of 
cases. But homage was exacted from a bishop as from a lay 
vassal, and William refused to permit the pope to interfere in 
English affairs without his permission in each particular case. 
No papal legate was to enter the land without the king's 
sanction. No papal decree should be received in the English 
Church without his consent, nor his servants be excommuni- 
cated against his will. When Gregory VII demanded that he 
should become his vassal for the land that he had conquered 
under the papal auspices, William promptly refused. 

It is clear that the Norman Conquest was not a simple 
change of dynasty. A new element was added to the Eng- 
lish people. We cannot tell how many Normans actually 
emigrated across the Channel, but they evidently came in 

England m the Middle Ages 


considerable numbers, and their influence upon the Eng- 
lish court and government was v^ery great. A century after 
William's arrival the whole body of the nobility, the bishops, 
abbots, and government officials, had become practically all 
Norman. "Besides these, the architects and artisans who 
built the castles and fortresses, and the cathedrals, abbeys, and 
parish churches, whose erection throughout the land was such 
a marked characteristic of the period, were immigrants from 
Normandy. Mer- ^ . . ^^^^^s::-^ 1] 

chants from the Nor- ' ' ' — - - ~— - 

man cities of Rouen ' ' ^is=-~-Lf m ^i-^i 

and Caen came to 
settle in London and 
other English cities, 
and weavers from 
Flanders were set- 
tled in various towns 
and even rural dis- 
tricts. For a short 
time these newcomers 
remained a separate 
people, but before 
the twelfth century 
was over they had 
become for the most 
part indistinguishable from the great mass of English people 
amongst whom they had come. They had nevertheless made 
that people stronger, more vigorous, more active-minded, and 
more varied in their occupations and interests" (Cheyney).-^ 

53. The Conqueror was followed by his sons, William wiiiiam 
Rufus and Henry I. . Upon the death of the latter the noo, and 
country went through a terrible period of civil war, for some 1100-1135. 

1 Reference, for the Conqueror and his reign, Green, Short History, pp. 74-87, 
and Gardiner, Stzideiits^ History, pp. 86-114. 


Norman Gateway at Bristol, England 


History of IVesteim Europe 

Civil war 
ending in 
the accession 
of Henry II, 

Henry's diffi- 
culties and 
his success 
in meeting 

His reforms 
in the 

of the nobility supported the Conqueror's grandson Stephen, 
and some his granddaughter Matilda. After the death of 
Stephen, when Henry II, Matilda's son,^ was finally recog- 
nized in II 54 by all as king, he found the kingdom in a 
melancholy state. The nobles had taken advantage of the 
prevalent disorder to erect castles without royal permission 
and estabUsh themselves as independent rulers. Mercenaries 
had been called in from the continent by the rivals for the 
throne, and had become a national plague. 

Henry at once adopted vigorous measures. He destroyed 
the illegally erected fortresses, sent off the mercenaries, and 
deprived many earls who had been created by Stephen and 
Matilda of their titles. Henry H's task was a difficult one. 
He had need of all his indefatigable energy and quickness of 
mind to restore order in England and at the same time rule 
the wide realms on the continent which he had either inherited 
or gained through his marriage with the heiress of the dukes 
of Guienne.^ Although he spent the greater part of his reign 
across the Channel, he still found time to be one of the 
greatest of all England's rulers. 

In order that he might maintain his prerogatives as judge of 
disputes among his subjects and avoid all excuse for the private 
warfare, which was such a persistent evil on the continent, he 
undertook to improve and reform the system of royal courts. 

1 William I (1066-1087), m. Matilda, daughter of Baldwin V of Flanders 

William II (Rufus) 
(i 087-1 100) 

2 See above, p. 126. 

Henry I (1100-1135), 

m. Matilda, daughter of 

Malcolm, King of Scotland 


Matilda (d. 1167), 

m. Geoffrey Plantagenet, 

Count of Anjou 


Henry II (1154-1189), 

the first Plantagenet king 

Adela, m. Stephen, 
Count of Blois 

Stephen (1135-1154) 

The Plantagenet Possessions in England and France 


History of Westejm Enrope 

The grand 


Trial by jury. 

The common 

Henry II and 
Thomas a 

Becket as 

He arranged that his judges should make regular circuits 
throughout the country, so that they might try cases on the 
spot at least once a year. He established the famous Court 
of King's Bench to try all other cases which came under the 
king's jurisdiction. This was composed of five judges from his 
council, two clergymen, and three laymen. We find, too, the 
beginning of our grand jury in a body of men in each neigh- 
borhood who were to be duly sworn in, from time to time, and 
should then bring accusations against such malefactors as had 
come to their knowledge. 

As for the petty or smaller jury, which actually tried the 
accused, its origin and history are obscure. It did not origi- 
nate with Henry II, but he systematized trial by jury and made 
it a settled law of the land instead of an exceptional favor. 
The plan of delegating the duty of determining the guilt or 
innocence of a suspected person to a dozen members of the 
community who were sworn to form their opinion without par- 
tiality was very different from the earlier systems. It resembled 
neither the Roman trial, where the judges made the decision, 
nor the mediaeval compurgation and ordeals, where God was 
supposed to pronounce the verdict. In all legal matters the 
decisions of Henry's judges were so sagacious and consistent 
that they became the basis of the common law which is still 
used in all EngUsh-speaking countries. 

Henry's reign was embittered by the famous struggle with 
Thomas k Becket, which illustrates admirably the peculiar 
dependence of the monarchs of his day upon the church- 
men. Becket was born in London. He early entered one 
of the lower orders of the Church, but grew up in the ser- 
vice of the crown, and was able to aid Henry in gaining the 
throne. Thereupon the new king made him his chancellor. 
Becket proved an excellent minister and defended the king's 
interest even against the Church, of which he was also an 
officer. He was fond of hunting and of warlike enterprises 

England in tJie Middle Ages 143 

and maintained a brilliant court from the revenues of the 
numerous church benefices which he held. It appeared to 
Henry that there could be no better head for the English 
clergy than his sagacious and worldly chancellor. He there- 
fore determined to make him Archbishop of Canterbury. 
The kings of that time often chose their most efficient officers 
from among the prelates. Lanfranc, for example, had been the 
Conqueror's chief minister. There were several good reasons 
for this practice. The clergy were not only far better educated 
than laymen but they were also not ordinarily dangerous as 
military leaders, nor could their offices become hereditary. 

In appointing Becket Archbishop of Canterbury, Henry Made Arch- 
intended to insure his own complete control of the Church. Canterbury, 

He proposed to bring clerical criminals before the royal courts defends the 

and punish them like other offenders, to make the bishops church 
meet all the feudal obligations, and to prevent appeals to the king, 
pope. Becket, however, immediately resigned his chancellor- 
ship, gave up his gay life, and opposed every effort of the king 
to reduce the independence of the Church. After a haughty 
assertion of the supremacy of the spiritual power over the 
secular government, Thomas fled from the wrathful and disap- 
pointed monarch to France and the protection of the pope. 

In spite of a patched-up reconciliation with the king, Murder of 
Becket proceeded to excommunicate or suspend some of the Henry's 
great English* prelates and, as Henry believed, was conspiring 
to rob his son of the crown. In a fit of anger, Henry 
exclaimed among his followers, " Is there no one to avenge 
me of this miserable clerk?" Unfortunately certain knights 
took the rash expression literally, and Becket was murdered in 
Canterbury cathedral, whither he had returned. The king had 
really had no wish to resort to violence, and his sorrow and 
remorse when he heard of the dreadful deed, and his terror at 
the consequences, were most genuine. The pope proposed to 
excommunicate the king. Henry, however, made peace with 

remorse . 

144* History of Western Europe 

the papal legates by the solemn assertion that he had never 
wished the death of Thomas and by promising to return to 
Canterbury all the property which he had confiscated, to send 
money to aid in the capture of the Holy Sepulcher at Jerusalem, 
and to undertake a crusade himself.^ 
Richard 54. Henry's later years were troubled by the machinations 

Hearted ' of Phihp Augustus of France and by the quarrels and treason of 
his own sons, of which some account has already been given. ^ 
He was followed by his son, the picturesque Richard the 
Lion-Hearted, one of the most romantic figures of the Middle 
Ages. He was, however, a poor ruler, who spent but a few 
months of his ten years' reign in England. He died in 1199 
John, 1199- and was succeeded by his brother John, from all accounts one of 
the most detestable persons who has ever worn a crown. His 
reign was, nevertheless, a notable one in the annals of England. 
In the first place, he lost a great part of the possessions of his 
house upon the continent (Normandy, Brittany, Anjou, etc.) ; 
secondly, he was forced by a revolt of his people, who refused to 
endure his despotism any longer, to grant the Great Charter. 
The loss of his lands across the Channel has already been 
described ; it remains only to speak of the winning of the 
Great Charter of English liberties.^ 

The granting When, in 1 2 13, John proposed to lead his English vassals 
of the Great , • i 1 • i 

Charter, across the water m order to attempt to reconquer his lost pos- 
sessions, they refused to accompany him on the ground that 
their feudal obligations did not bind them to fight outside of 
their country. Moreover, they showed a lively discontent with 
John's despotism and his neglect of those limits of the kingly 
power which several of the earlier Norman kings had solemnly 
recognized. In 12 14 a number of the barons met and took a 
solemn oath to compel the king, by arms if necessary, to confirm 

1 References, Green, pp. 104-112 ; Gardiner, pp. 138-158. A contemporaneous 
account of the murder is given by Colby, Sources, pp. 56-59. 

2 See above, p. 126. 

3 For John's reign, see Green, pp. 122-127. 

12 15. 

Eitgland in tJic Middle Ages 145 

a charter containing the things which, according to English 
traditions, a king might not do. It proved necessary to march 
against John, whom the insurgent nobles met at Rimnymede, 
not far from London. Here on the 15th of June, 12 15, they 
forced him to swear to observe the rights of the nation, as 
they conceived them, which they had carefully written out. 

The Great Charter is perhaps the most famous document in The provi- 

... r- 1. .. -.,..-, sions of the 

the history of government ; ^ its provisions furnish a brief and charter and 
comprehensive statement of the burning governmental ques- tance. 
tions of the age. It was really the whole nation, not merely the 
nobles, who concluded this great treaty with a tyrannous ruler. 
The rights of the commoner are guarded as well as those of 
the noble. As the king promises to observe the liberties and 
customs of his vassals and not to abuse his feudal prerogatives, 
so the vassals agree to observe the rights of their men. The 
merchant is not to be deprived of his goods for small offenses, 
nor the farmer of his wagon and implements. The king is to 
impose no tax, beside the three stated feudal aids,^ except by 
the consent of the great council of the nation. This is to 
include the prelates and greater barons and all who hold 
directly of the king. 

There is no more notable clause in the Charter than that 
which provides that no one is to be arrested or imprisoned 
or deprived of >his property unless he be immediately sent 
before a court of his peers for trial. To realize the impor- 
tance of this, we must recollect that in France, down to 1789, the 
king exercised such unHmited powers that he could order the 
arrest of any one he pleased, and could imprison him for any 
length of time without bringing him to trial, or even inform- 
ing him of the nature of his offense. 'The Great Charter 
provided further that the king should permit merchants to 

1 The text of the Great Charter is given in Translations and Reprints, Vol. I, 
No. 6 ; extracts, in the Readings, Chapter XI. 

2 These were payments made when the lord knighted his eldest son, gave his 
eldest daughter in marriage, or had been captured and was waiting to be ransomed. 

146 History of Western Europe 

move about freely and should observe the privileges of the 
various towns ; nor were his officers longer to exercise despotic 
powers over those under them. 

"The Great Charter is the first great public act of the 
nation after it has realized its own identity, the consummation 
of the work for which unconsciously kings, prelates, and 
lawyers have been laboring for a century. There is not a 
word in it that recalls the distinctions of race and blood, 
or that maintains the differences of English and Norman law. 
It is in one view the summing up of a period of national life, 
in another the starting-point of a new period, not less eventful 
than that which it closes" (Stubbs). 

In spite of his solemn confirmation of the Charter, John, with 
his accustomed treachery, made a futile attempt to abrogate 
his engagements ; but neither he nor his successors ever suc- 
ceeded in getting rid of the document. Later there were times 
when the English kings evaded its provisions and tried to rule 
as absolute monarchs. But the people always sooner or later 
bethought them of the Charter, which thus continued to form 
an effective barrier against permanent despotism in England. 
Henry III, 5$. During the long reign of John's son, Henry III, Eng- 

land began to construct her Parliament, an institution which has 
not only played a most important role in English history, but 
has also served as the model for similar bodies in almost every 
civilized state in the world. Henry's fondness for appointing 
foreigners to office, his anxiety to enjoy powers which he had 
not the intelligence or energy to justify by the use he made of 
them, and his willingness to permit the pope to levy taxes in 
England, led the nobles to continue their hostility to the crown. 
The nobles and the people of the towns, who were anxious to 
check the arbitrary powers of the king, joined forces in what 
is known as the War of the Barons. They found a leader in 
the patriotic Simon de Montfort, who proved himself a valiant 
and unselfish defender of the rights of the nation. 




England in tJie Middle Ages 147 

The older Witenagemot of Saxon times, as well as the Great The English 
Council of the Norman kings, was a meeting of nobles, bishops, ^^'^^^^^®°^- 
and abbots, which the king summoned from time to time to give 
him advice and aid, and to sanction important governmental 
undertakings. During Henry's reign its meetings became 
more frequent and its discussions more vigorous than before, 
and the name Farliavient began to be applied to it. 

In 1265 a famous Parliament was held, where, through the simonde 
influence of Simon de Montfort, a most important new class summons 
of members — the commons — was present, which was destined mons to 
to give it its future greatness. In addition to the nobles and 
prelates, the sheriffs were ordered to summon two simple knights 
from each county and two citizens from each of the more 
flourishing towns to attend and take part in the discussions. 

Edward I, the next king, definitely adopted this innovation. The Model 
He doubtless called in the representatives of the towns because of Edward i, 
the townspeople were becoming rich and he wished to have an "^ ' 
opportunity to ask them to make grants to meet the expenses 
of the government. He also wished to obtain the approval 
of all classes when he determined upon important measures 
affecting the whole realm. Since the Model Parliament of 
1295, the commons, or representatives of the people, have 
always been included along with the clergy and nobility when 
the national assembly of England has been summoned. We 
shall see later how the present houses of Lords and Commons 
came into existence under Edward's son. 

From the reign of Edward I we are, as a distinguished England 
EngUsh historian has well said, " face to face with modern Eng- fourteenth 
land. Kings, Lords, Commons, the courts of justice, ... 
the relations of Church and State, in a great measure the 
framework of society itself, have all taken the shape which 
they still essentially retain" (Green). The English language 
was, moreover, about to become the speech we use to-day. 

between the 
of Germany 
and France. 




56. The history of the kingship in the eastern, or German, 
part of Charlemagne's empire is very different from that in 
France, which was reviewed in a previous chapter. After a 
struggle of four hundred years, it had become clear by the 
thirteenth century that the successors of Louis the German 
(Charlemagne's grandson) could not make of Germany a 
kingdom such as St. Louis left to his descendants. From 
the thirteenth century down to Napoleon's time there was 
no Germany in a political sense, but only a great number of 
practically independent states, great and small. It was but 
a generation ago that, under the leadership of Prussia, — a 
kingdom unknown until many centuries after Charlemagne's 
time, — the previously independent kingdoms, principahties, 
and free towns were formed into the federation now known as 
the German empire. 

The map of the eastern part of Charlemagne's empire a 
century after his death indicates that the whole region had 
fallen into certain large divisions ruled over by dukes, who, in 
Saxony and Bavaria at least, were kings in all but name.^ 
Just how these duchies originated is something of a mystery, 
but two things at least are clear which help to explain their 
appearance. In the first place, under the weak successors of 
Louis the German, the old independent spirit of the various 
peoples, or sterns^ that Charlemagne had been able to hold 

1 See map following p. 152 for the names and position of the several duchies. 



Germany ajid Italy 1 49 

together, once more asserted itself and they gladly returned 
to the leadership of their own chiefs. In the second place, 
they were driven to do this by the constant attacks from with- 
out, first of the Northmen and the Moravians, a Slavic people, 
then of the terrible Hungarian horsemen who penetrated more 
than once as far west as France. As there was no competent 
central power to defend the people, it was natural that they 
should look to their local leaders for help and guidance. 

These stem duchies, as the Germans call them, prevented the Henry i, 
German kings from getting a firm hold on their realms. The ^^^'^^ ' 
best that they could do was to bring about a sort of confedera- 
tion. Consequently, when the German aristocracy chose the 
strong Henry I, of the ducal house of Saxony,^ as their king 
in 919, he wisely made no attempt to deprive the several 
dukes of their power. He needed their assistance in the task 
of dealing with the invaders who were pressing in on all sides. 
He prepared the way for the later subjugation of the Slavs and 
the final repulse of the Hungarians, but he left to his famous 
son, Otto I, the task of finally disposing of the invaders and 
attempting to found a real kingdom. 

The reign of Otto I (936-973), called the Great, is one of otto the 
the most extraordinary in the history of Germany. He made 973. 
no attempt to abolish the duchies, but he succeeded in getting 
p.ll of them into the hands of his sons, brothers, or near relatives, 
as well as in reducing the power of the dukes. For example, 
he made his brother Henry duke of Bavaria, after forgiving 
him for two revolts. His scholarly brother. Archbishop Bruno 
of Cologne,^ he made duke of Lorraine in the place of his 
faithless son-in-law, Conrad, who had rebelled against him. 

1 Arnulf, the grandson of Louis the German, who supplanted Charles the 
Fat, died in 899 and left a six-year-old son, Louis the Child (d. 911), who was 
the last of the house of Charlemagne to enjoy the German kingship. The aris- 
tocracy then chose Conrad I (d. 918), and, in 919, Henry I of Saxony, as king 
of the East Franks. 

2 See Readings, Chapter XII. 


History of Western Europt 

Final defeat 
of the Hun- 
of Hungary 
and Austria. 

Otto inter- 
feres in 

Many of the old ducal families either died out or lost their 
heritage by unsuccessful revolt. None of them offered a long 
succession of able rulers. The duchies consequently fell 
repeatedly into the hands of the king, who then claimed the 
right to assign them to whom he wished. 

In the middle of the tenth century the northern and 
eastern boundaries of Germany were as yet very ill defined. 
The Slavic peoples across the Elbe, many of whom were still 
pagans, were engaged in continual attacks upon the borders 
of Saxony. Otto I did more than fight these tribes; he 
established dioceses, such as Brandenburg, Havelberg, etc., in a 
district which is now the political center of the German empire, 
and greatly forwarded the Christianizing and colonization of 
the tract between the Elbe and the Oder. 

Moreover, he put an end forever to the invasions of the Hun- 
garians. He defeated them in a great battle near Augsburg 
(955) and pursued them to the confines of Germany. The 
Hungarians, or Magyars as they are commonly called, then set- 
tled down in their own territory and began to lay the founda- 
tions of that national development which makes them one of 
the most important factors in the eastern portion of Europe 
to-day. A region which had belonged to the Bavarian duchy 
was organized as a separate district, the Austrian Mark (i.e., 
March), and became the nucleus of the Austrian empire. 

57. The most noteworthy, however, of Otto's acts was his 
interference in Italian affairs, which led to his assuming the 
imperial crown which Charlemagne had worn. There is no 
more gloomy chapter in European history than the experi- 
ences of Italy and the papacy after the deposition of Charles 
the Fat in 887. We know little of what went on, but we hear 
of the duke of Spoleto, the marquis of Friuli, and Burgundian 
princes from across the Alps, assuming the Italian crown at 
different times. The Mohammedan invasions added to the 
confusion, so that Germany and France, in spite of theii 

Gei'ntany and Italy 1 5 i 

incessant wars, appear almost tranquil compared with the 

anarchy in Italy.^ Three Italian kings were crowned emperor 

by the popes during the generation following the deposition 

of Charles the Fat. Then for a generation the title of emperor 

disappeared altogether in the West, until it was again assumed 

by the German Otto. 

Italy was a tempting field of operations for an ambitious otto is 

ruler. Otto first crossed the Alps in 95 1, married the widow of emperor, 

one of the ephemeral Italian kings, and, without being formally 

crowned, was generally acknowledged as king of Italy. The 

revolt of his son compelled him to return to Germany, but 

a decade later the pope called him to his assistance. Otto 

answered the summons promptly, freed the pope from his 

enemies, and was crowned emperor at Rome in 962, 

The coronation of Otto the Great, like that of Charlemagne, important 

T , , . _ . results for 

was a momentous event m mediaeval history. By assuming Germany of 

.... , , . , , , . the corona- 

the imperial crown he imposed so great a burden on his sue- tion of otto 

cessors, the German kings, that they finally succumbed beneath 
it. For three centuries they strove to keep Germany together 
and at the same time control Italy and the papacy. After 
interminable wars and incalculable sacrifices, they lost all. 
Italy escaped them, the papacy estabUshed its complete inde- 
pendence, and Germany, their rightful patrimony, instead of 
growing into a strong monarchy, fell apart into weak little 

Otto's own experiences furnish an example of the melan- Example of 


choly results of his relations with the pope, to whom he owed trouble in 

-L 1 ' controlling 

his crown. Hardly had he turned his back before the pope popes and 

. , , . T 1 Italian 

began to violate his engagements. It became necessary affairs. 

for the new emperor to hasten back to Rome and summon 

a council for the deposition of the pontiff, whose conduct 

1 See Emerton, Mediceval Etirofe, Chapter IV, for a clear account of the 
condition of the papacy, the struggles between the rival Italian dynasties, and 
the interference and coronation of Otto the Great. 

152 Histoiy of Western Eiii'ope 

certainly furnished ample justification. But the Romans 
refused to accept a pope chosen under Otto's auspices, and he 
had to return again to Rome and besiege the city before his 
pope was acknowledged. A few years later, still a third expe- 
dition was necessary in order to restore another of the emperor's 
popes who had been driven out of Rome by the local factions. 
The succeeding emperors had usually to make a similar 
series of costly and troublesome journeys to Rome, — a first 
one to be crowned, and then others either to depose a hostile 
pope or to protect a loyal one from the oppression of neigh- 
boring lords. These excursions were very distracting, espe- 
cially to a ruler who left behind him in Germany a rebellious 
nobility that always took advantage of his absence to revolt. 
The Holy Otto's successors dropped their old title of King of the 

Empire. East Franks as soon as they had been duly crowned by the pope 

at Rome, and assumed the magnificent and all-embracing 
designation, "Emperor Ever August of the Romans." ^ Their 
"Holy Roman Empire," as it came to be called later, which 
was to endure, in name at least, for more than eight centu- 
ries, was obviously even less like that of the ancient Romans 
than was Charlemagne's. As ki?igs of Germany and Italy they 
had practically all the powers that they enjoyed as emperors^ 
except the fatal right that they claimed of taking part in 
the election of the pope. We shall find that, instead of 
making themselves feared at home and building up a great 
state, the- German emperors wasted their strength in a long 
struggle with the popes, who proved themselves in the end 
incomparably the stronger, and eventually reduced the Empire 
to a mere shadow. 

1 Henry II (1002-1024) and his successors, not venturing to assume the title 
of emperor till crowTied at Rome, but anxious to claim the sovereignty of Rome 
as indissolubly attached to the German crown, began to call themselves before 
their coronation rex Romanorion, i.e., King of the Romans. This habit lasted 
until Luther's time, when Maximilian I got permission from the pope to call 
himself " Emperor Elect " before his coronation, and this title was thereafter 
taken by his successors immediately upon their election. 

Germany and Italy i 5 3 

58. We have no space to speak of the immediate succes- 
sors of Otto the Great. ^ Like him they had to meet opposi- 
tion at home as well as the attacks of their restless neighbors, 
especially the Slavs. The Empire is usually considered to 
have reached its height under Conrad II (1024-1039) and 
Henry III (1039-105 6), the first two representatives of the 
new Franconian line which succeeded the Saxon house upon 
its extinction in 1024. 

By an amicable arrangement the kingdom of Burgundy Conrad 11, 
came into the hands of Conrad II in 1032. This large and ^°^'*"^°39' 
important territory long remained a part of the Empire, serv- 
ing to render intercourse between Germany and Italy easier, 
and forming a barrier between Germany and France. On the 
eastern borders of the Empire the Slavs had organized the 
kingdom of Poland in the latter half of the tenth century, and Poland, 
its kings, although often at war with the emperor, generally 
acknowledged his suzerainty. Conrad, following the policy of 
Otto the Great, endeavored to bring as many of the stem 
duchies as possible into the hands of his son and successor, 
Henry III, who was made duke of Franconia, Swabia, and 
Bavaria. This was the firmest of all foundations for the 
kingly power. 

Notwithstanding the energy and ability of Conrad II and Henry iii, 

I 039- 1056. 
Henry III, the fact that the Empire stands forth as the great 

power of western Europe during the first half of the eleventh 

century is largely due to the absence of any strong rivals. 

The French kings had not yet overcome the feudal disruption, 

and although Italy objected to the control of the emperor, 

it never could agree to combine against him. 

59. The most important question that Henry III had to Henry iii and 
face was that of a great reform of the Church. This was already 

under way and it was bound, if carried out, to destroy the 

1 For Otto II, Otto III, and Henry II, see Emerton, Mediceval Europe, 
Chapter V ; and Henderson, Germany in the Middle Ages, pp. 145-166. 


History of Western Europe 

Wealth of 
the Church. 

The church 
lands drawn 
into the 

Fiefs held 
by church- 
men not 

control of the emperors not only over the papacy but also 
over the German bishops and abbots, whom they had strength- 
ened by grants of land and authority with the special pur- 
pose of making them the chief support of the monarchy. The 
reform was not directed particularly against the emperor, but 
he was, as will become apparent, more seriously affected by 
the changes proposed by the reforming party than any other 
of the European rulers. 

In order to understand the reform and the long struggle 
between the emperors and the popes which grew out of it, we 
must stop a moment to consider the condition of the Church 
in the time of Henry III. It seemed to be losing all its 
strength and dignity and to be falling apart, just as Charle- 
magne's empire had dissolved into feudal bits. This was chiefly 
due to the vast landed possessions of the clergy. Kings, princes, 
and rich landowners had long considered it meritorious to make 
donations to bishoprics and monasteries, so that a very consid- 
erable portion of the land in western Europe had come into the 
hands of churchmen. 

When landowners began to give and receive land as fiefs the 
property of the Church was naturally drawn into the feudal 
relations. A king, or other proprietor, might grant fiefs to 
churchmen as well as to laymen. The bishops became the 
vassals of the king or of other feudal lords by doing homage for 
a fief and swearing fidelity, just as any other vassal would do. 
An abbot sometimes placed his monastery under the protection 
of a neighboring lord by giving up his land and receiving it back 
again as a fief. 

One great difference, however, existed between the church 
lands and the ordinary fiefs. According to the law of the 
Church, the bishops and abbots could not marry and so could 
have no children to whom they might transmit their property. 
Consequently, when a landholding churchman died, some one 
had to be chosen in his place who should enjoy his property 

Germany and Italy 155 

and perform his duties. The rule of the Church had been, 

from time immemorial, that the clergy of the diocese should 

choose the bishop, their choice being ratified by the people. 

As the church law expresses it, " A bishop is therefore rightly 

appointed in the church of God when the people acclaim 

him who has been elected by the common vote of the clergy." 

As for the abbots, they were, according to the rule of St 

Benedict, to be chosen by the members of the monastery. 

In spite of these rules the bishops and abbots had come, in Bishops and 

the tenth and eleventh centuries, to be selected, to all intents ticaiiychosen 
, 11 • 1 • 1 ,- 1 , 1 -. -r . ^y the feudal 

and purposes, by the various kmgs and feudal lords. It is true lords. 

that the outward forms of a regular ('' canonical ") election were 
usually permitted ; but the feudal lord made it clear whom he 
wished chosen, and if the wrong person was elected, he simply 
refused to hand over to him the lands attached to the bishopric 
or abbey. The lord could in this way control the choice of 
the prelates, for in order to become a real bishop or abbot 
one had not only to be elected, he had also to be solemnly 
"invested" with the appropriate powers of a bishop or abbot 
and with his lands. 

Since, to the worldly minded, the spiritual powers attached investiture, 
to church offices possessed httle attraction if no property went 
along with them, the feudal lord was really master of the situ- 
ation. When his appointee was duly chosen he proceeded to 
the investiture. The new bishop or abbot first became the 
"man" of the feudal lord by doing him homage, and then 
the lord transferred to him the lands and rights attached to 
the office. No careful distinction appears to have been made 
between the property and the spiritual prerogatives. The lord 
often conferred both by bestowing upon a bishop the ring and 
the crosier, the emblems of religious authority. It seemed 
shocking enough that the lord, who was often a rough soldier, 
should dictate the selection of the bishops, but it was still more 
shocking that he should audaciously assume to confer spiritual 


History of Western Europe 

Attitude of 
the Church 
towards its 

Attitude of 
the king. 

position of 
the bishops 
in Germany 
and else- 

powers with spiritual emblems. Yet even worse things might 
happen, since sometimes the lord, for his greater convenience, 
had himself made bishop. 

The Church itself naturally looked at the property attached 
to a benefice as a mere incident and considered the spiritual 
prerogatives the main thing. And since the clergy alone could 
rightly confer these, it was natural that they should claim the 
right to bestow ecclesiastical offices, including the lands (" tem- 
poralities ") attached to them, upon whomsoever they pleased 
without consulting any layman whatever. Against this claim 
the king might urge that a simple minister of the Gospel, or 
a holy monk, was by no means necessarily fitted to manage 
the interests of a feudal state, such as the great archbishoprics 
and bishoprics, and even the abbeys, had become in Germany 
and elsewhere in the eleventh century. 

In short, the situation in which the bishops found themselves 
was a very complicated one. (i) As an officer of the Church, the 
bishop had certain ecclesiastical and religious duties within the 
limits of his diocese. He saw that parish priests were properly 
selected and ordained, he tried certain cases in his court, and 
performed the church ceremonies. (2) He managed the lands 
which belonged to the bishopric, which might, or might not, be 
fiefs. (3) As a vassal of those who had granted lands to the bish- 
opric upon feudal terms, he owed the usual feudal dues, not 
excluding the duty of furnishing troops to his lord. (4) Lastly, 
in Germany, the king had found it convenient, from about the 
beginning of the eleventh century, to confer upon the bishops 
in many cases the authority of a count in the districts about 
them. In this way they might have the right to collect 
tolls, coin money, and perform other important governmental 
duties.-^ When a prelate was inducted into office he was 

1 These grants of the powers of a count to prelates serve to explain the ecclesi- 
astical states, — for example, the archbishoprics of Mayence and Salzburg, the 
bishopric of Bamberg, and so forth, — which continue to appear upon the map of 
Germany until the opening of the nineteenth century. 

Germany and Italy 157 

invested with all these various functions at once, both spiritual 
and governmental. 

To forbid the king to take part in the investiture was, con- 
sequently, to rob him not only of his feudal rights but also 
of his authority over many of his government officials, since 
bishops, and sometimes even abbots, were often counts in all 
but name. Moreover, the monarch relied upon the clergy, 
both in Germany and France, to counterbalance the influence 
of his lay vassals, who were always trying to exalt their power 
at his expense. He therefore found it necessary to take care 
who got possession of the important church offices. 

60. Still another danger threatened the wealth and resources The marriage 
of the Church. During the tenth and eleventh centuries the threatens the 
rule of the Church prohibiting the clergy from marrying^ Church, 
appears to have been widely and publicly neglected in Italy, 
Germany, France, and England. To the stricter critics of 
the time this appeared a terrible degradation of the clergy, 
who, they felt, should be unencumbered by family cares and 
wholly devoted to the service of God. The question, too, 
had another side. It was obvious that the property of the 
Church would soon be dispersed if the clergy were allowed to 
marry, since they would wish to provide for their children. 
Just as the feudal tenures had become hereditary, so the 
church lands would become hereditary unless the clergy were 
forced to remain unmarried. 

1 From the beginning, single life had appealed to some Christians as more 
worthy than the married state. Gradually, under the influence of monasticism, 
the more devout and enthusiastic clergy voluntarily shunned marriage, or, if 
already married, gave up association with their wives after ordination. Finally 
the Western Church condemned marriage altogether for the deacon and the ranks 
above him, and later the subdeacons were included in the prohibition. The 
records are too incomplete for the historian to form an accurate idea of how far 
the prohibition of the Church was really observed throughout the countries of 
the West. There were certainly great numbers of married clergymen in north- 
ern Italy, Germany, and elsewhere, in the tenth and eleventh centuries. Of 
course the Church refused to sanction the marriage of its officials and called 
the wife of a clergyman, however virtuous and faithful she might be, by the 
opprobrious name of " concubine." 


History of Western Etiropt 

Buying and 
selling of " 

Origin of the 
term simony. 

Simony not 
really the 
sale of church 

Besides the feudalizing of its property and the marriage of 
the clergy, there was a third great and constant source of 
weakness and corruption in the Church, namely, the tempta- 
tion to buy and sell church offices. Had the duties and 
responsibilities of the bishops, abbots, and priests always been 
arduous and exacting, and their recompense barely enough 
to maintain them, there would have been little tendency to 
bribe those who could bestow the appointments. But the 
incomes of bishoprics and abbeys were usually considerable, 
sometimes very great, while the duties attached to the office 
of bishop or abbot, however serious in the eyes of the right- 
minded, might easily be neglected by the unscrupulous. The 
revenue from a great landed estate, the distinction of high eccle- 
siastical rank, and the governmental prerogatives that went with 
the office, were enough to induce the members of the noblest 
families to vie with each other in securing church positions. 
The king or prince who possessed the right of investiture was 
sure of finding some one willing to pay something for important 

The sin of buying or selling church offices was recognized 
as a most heinous one. It was called si7?iony^ a name 
derived from Simon the Magician, who, according to the 
account in the Acts of the Apostles, offered Peter money if 
he would give^ him the power of conferring the Holy Spirit 
upon those upon whom he should lay his hands. As the 
apostle denounced this first simonist, so the Church has con- 
tinued ever since to denounce those who propose to purchase 
its sacred powers, — " Thy silver perish with thee, because 
thou hast thought to obtain the gift of God with money" 
(Acts ix. 20). 

Doubtless very few bought positions in the Church with the 
view of obtaining the "gift of God," that is to say, the 
religious office. It was the revenue and the honor that were 

1 Pronounced sirn'o-ny. 

Germany and Italy 159 

chiefly coveted. Moreover, when a king or lord accepted a 
gift from one for whom he procured a benefice, he did not 
regard himself as selling the ofiice ; he merely shared its advan- 
tages. No transaction took place in the Middle Ages without 
accompanying gifts and fees of various kinds. The church 
lands were well managed and remunerative. The clergyman 
who was appointed to a rich bishopric or abbey seemed to 
have far more revenue than he needed and so was expected 
to contribute to the king's treasury, which was generally 

The evil of simony was, therefore, explicable enough, and simony 
,.,.,,,,. -r corrupts the 

perhaps ineradicable under the circumstances. It was, never- lower clergy. 

theless, very demoralizing, for it spread downward and infected 
the whole body of the clergy. A bishop who had made a large 
outlay in obtaining his office naturally expected something from 
the priests, whom it was his duty to appoint. The priest in 
turn was tempted to reimburse himself by improper exactions 
for the performance of his regular rehgious duties, for baptizing 
and marrying his parishioners, and for burying the dead. 

So it seemed, at the opening of the eleventh century, as if 
the Church was to be dragged down by its property into the 
anarchy of feudalism described in a preceding chapter. There 
were many indications that its great officers were to become 
merely the vassals of kings and princes and no longer to 
represent a great international institution under the head- 
ship of the popes. The Bishop of Rome had not only ceased, 
in the tenth century, to exercise any considerable influence 
over the churches beyond the Alps, but was himself controlled 
by the restless nobles of central Italy. He appears much less 
important, in the chronicles of the time, than the Archbishop 
of Rheims or Mayence. There is no more extraordinary 
revolution recorded in history than that which raised the weak 
and demorahzed papacy of the tenth century to a supreme 
place in European affairs. 


History of Western Eiiropt 

Three rival 

The interfer- 
ence of 
Henry III 
in papal 
affairs and 
its momen- 
tous conse- 

6i. One of the noble families of Rome had got the selec- 
tion of the popes into its own hands, and was using the papal 
authority to secure its control over the city. In the same year 
(1024) in which Conrad II became emperor, a layman was 
actually exalted to the headship of the Church, and after 
him a mere boy of ten or twelve years, Benedict IX, who, 
in addition to his youth, proved to be thoroughly evil-minded. 
His powerful family maintained him, however, on the papal 
throne for a decade, until he proposed to marry. . This so 
scandalized even the not over-sensitive Romans that they 
drove him out of the city. A rich neighboring bishop then 
secured his own election. Presently a third claimant appeared 
in the person of a pious and learned priest who bought out 
the claims of Benedict IX for a large sum of money and 
assumed the title of Gregory VI. 

This state of affairs seemed to the emperor, Henry III, to 
call for his interference. He accordingly went to Italy and 
summoned a council at Sutri, north of Rome, in 1046, where 
two of the claimants were deposed. Gregory VI, more con- 
scientious than his rivals, not only resigned his office but tore 
his pontifical robes in pieces and admitted his monstrous crime 
in buying the papal dignity, though his motives had been of 
the purest. The emperor then secured the election of a worthy 
German bishop as pope, whose first act was to crown Henry 
and Agnes his wife.^ 

The appearance of Henry III in Italy at this juncture, and 
the settlement of the question of the three rival popes, are 
among the most important events of all mediaeval history in 
their results. In lifting the papacy out of the realm of petty 
ItaHan politics, Henry unwittingly helped to raise up a rival 
to the imperial authority which was destined, before the end 
of the next century, to overshadow it and to become without 
question the greatest power in western Europe. 

1 Reference, Emerton, Mcdicpval Eiirofe, pp. 201-209. 

Germany and Italy i6i 

For nearly two hundred years the popes had assumed very Difficulties 
little responsibihty for the welfare of Europe at large. It was come in 
a gigantic task to make of the Church a great international the suprem? 
monarchy, with its head at the old world-center, Rome ; the popes in ^ 
difficulties in the way seemed, indeed, well-nigh insurmountable. Europe. 
The great archbishops, who were as jealous of the power of 
the pope as the great vassals were of the kingly power, must 
be brought into subjection. National tendencies which made 
against the unity of the Church must be overcome. The con- 
trol enjoyed by kings, princes, and other feudal lords in the 
selection of church officials must be done away with. Simony 
with its degrading influence must be abolished. The marriage 
of the clergy must be checked, so that the property of the 
Church should not be dissipated. The whole body of church- 
men, from the priest to the archbishop, must be redeemed 
from the immorality and worldliness which degraded them in 
the eyes of the people. 

It is true that during the remainder of his life Henry III 
himself controlled the election of the popes ; but he was sin- 
cerely and deeply interested in the betterment of the Church 
and took care to select able and independent German prel- 
ates to fill the papal office. Of these the most important was 
Leo IX (1049-1054). He was the first to show clearly how popeLeoix, 
the pope might not only become in time the real head and 
monarch of the Church but might also aspire to rule kings 
and emperors as well as bishops and abbots. Leo refused 
to regard himself as pope simply because the emperor had 
appointed him. He held that the emperor should aid and 
protect, but might not create, popes. So he entered Rome 
as an humble barefoot pilgrim and was duly elected by the 
Roman people according to the rule of the Church. 

Leo IX undertook to visit France and Germany and even 
Hungary in person, with the purpose of calling councils to check 
simony and the marriage of the clergy. But this personal 


History of Western Europe 



Kicholas II 
places the 
election of 
the popes in 
the hands 
of the car- 
dinals, 1059. 

to further 

oversight on the part of the popes was not feasible in the long 
run, if for no other reason, because they were generally old 
men who would have found traveling arduous and often danger- 
ous. Leo's successors relied upon legates, to whom they dele- 
gated extensive powers and whom they dispatched to all parts 
of western Europe in something the same way that Charlemagne 
employed his missi. It is supposed that Leo IX was greatly 
influenced in his energetic policy by a certain subdeacon, Hilde- 
brand by name. Hildebrand was himself destined to become 
one of the greatest popes, under the title of Gregory VII, and 
to play a part in the formation of the mediaeval Church which 
justifies us in ranking him, as a statesman, with Caesar, Charle- 
magne, Richelieu, and Bismarck. 

62. The first great step toward the emancipation of the 
Church from the control of the laity was taken by Nicholas II. 
In 1059 he issued a remarkable decree which took the elec- 
tion of the head of the Church once for all out of the 
hands of both the emperor and the people of Rome, and 
placed it definitely and forever in the hands of the cardinals, 
who represented the Roman clergy.^ Obviously the object of 
this decree was to preclude all lay interference, whether of the 
distant emperor, of the local nobility, or of the Roman mob. 
The college of cardinals still exists and still elects the pope.^ 

The reform party which directed the policy of the popes 
had, it hoped, freed the head of the Church from the con- 
trol of worldly men by putting his election in the hands of the 

1 The word cardinal (Latin, cardinalis, principal) was applied to the priests 
of the various parishes in Rome, to the several deacons connected with the 
Lateran, — which was the cathedral church of the Roman bishopric, — and, lastly, 
to six or seven suburban bishops who officiated in turn in the Lateran. The title 
became a very distinguished one and was sought by ambitious prelates and eccle- 
siastical statesmen, like Wolsey, Richelieu, and Mazarin. If their official titles 
were examined, it would be found that each was nominally a cardinal bishop, 
priest, or deacon of sorne Roman church. The number of cardinals varied until 
fixed, in 1586, at six bishops, fifty priests, and fourteen deacons. 

2 The decree of 1059 is to be found in Henderson, Historical Doctanenfs, 
p. 361. 

Germany and Italy 163 

Roman clergy. It now proposed to emancipate the Church as 
a whole from the base entanglements of earth : first, by strictly 
forbidding the married clergy to perform religious functions 
and by exhorting their flocks to refuse to attend their minis- 
trations ; and secondly, by depriving the kings and feudal lords 
of their influence over the choice of the bishops and abbots, 
since this influence was deemed the chief cause of worldliness 
among the prelates. Naturally these last measures met with 
far more general opposition than the new way of electing the 
pope. An attempt to expel the married clergy from Milan 
led to a popular revolt, in which the pope's legate actually 
found his life in danger. The decrees forbidding clergymen 
to receive their lands and offices from laymen received little 
attention from either the clergy or the feudal lords. The 
magnitude of the task which the popes had undertaken first 
became fully apparent when Hildebrand himself ascended the 
papal throne, in 1073, as Gregory VII. 



The Dicta- 63. Among the writings of Gregory VII there is a very 

Gregory VII. brief statement, called the Dictatus, of the powers which 
he believed the popes to possess. Its chief claims are the 
following : The pope enjoys a unique title ; he is the only 
universal bishop and may depose and reinstate other bishops 
or transfer them from place to place. No council of the 
Church may be regarded as speaking for Christendom with- 
out his consent. The Roman Church has never erred, nor 
will it err to all eternity. No one may be considered a Cath- 
ohc Christian who does not agree with the Roman Church. 
No book is authoritative unless it has received the papal 

Gregory does not stop with asserting the pope's complete 
supremacy over the Church ; he goes still further and claims 
for him the right to restrain the civil government when it seems 
necessary in the cause of righteousness. He says that " the 
Pope is the only person whose feet are kissed by all princes " ; 
that he may depose emperors and *' absolve subjects from 
allegiance to an unjust ruler." No one shall dare to condemn 
one who appeals to the pope. No one may annul a decree 
of the pope, though the pope may declare null and void the 
decrees of all other earthly powers; and no one may pass 
judgment upon his acts.^ 

1 For text of the Dictatus, see Readings, Chapter XIII. The most com- 
plete statement of Gregory's view of the responsibility of the papacy for the civil 
government is to be found in his famous letter to the Bishop of Metz (108 1), 
Readiiigs, Chapter XIII. 


Gregory VII and Henry IV 165 

These are not the insolent claims of a reckless tyrant, but the inadequacy 

expression of a theory of government which has had advocates government 

among some of the most conscientious and learned men of all Middle Ages. 

succeeding ages. Before venturing to criticise Gregory's view 

of his position we should recollect two important facts. In 

the first place, what most writers call the state^ when dealing 

with the Middle Ages, was no orderly government in our sense 

of the word ; it was represented only by restless feudal lords, 

to whom disorder was the very breath of life. When, on one 

occasion, Gregory declared the civil power to be the invention 

of evil men instigated by the devil, he was making a natural 

inference from what he observed of the conduct of the princes 

of his time. In the second place, it should be remembered that The church 

Gregory does not claim that the Church should manage the civil right to 

111 1 • 1 • 1 1 r 1 interfere only 

government, but that the papacy, which is answerable for the when neces- 

eternal welfare of every Christian, should have the right to 
restrain a sinful and perverse prince and to refuse to recog- 
nize unrighteous laws. Should all else fail, he claimed the 
right to free a nation which was being led to disaster in this 
world and to perdition in the next from its allegiance to a 
wicked monarch. 

Immediately upon his election as pope, Gregory began to Gregory vii 
1 • 1 • , • r 1 A 1 , 1 puts his 

put into practice his high conception of the role that the theories of 

spiritual head of the world should play. He dispatched power into 

legates throughout Europe, and from this time on these 

legates became a powerful instrument of government. He 

warned the kings of France and England and the youthful 

German ruler, Henry IV, to forsake their evil ways, to be 

upright and just, and obey his admonitions. He explains, 

kindly but firmly, to William the Conqueror that the papal 

and kingly powers are both established by God as the greatest 

among the authorities of the world, just as the sun and moon 

are the greatest of the heavenly bodies.^ But the papal power 

1 For this letter, see Colby, Sources, p. 37. 


1 66 

History of Western Europe 

Death of 
Henry III, 

Henry IV, 

is obviously superior to the kingly, for it is responsible for it ; at 
the Last Day Gregory must render an account of the king as 
one of the flock intrusted to his care. The king of France was 
warned to give up his practice of simony, lest he be excom- 
municated and his subjects freed from their oath of allegiance. 
All these acts of Gregory appear to have been dictated not 
by worldly ambition but by a fervent conviction of their 
righteousness and of his duty toward all men. 

64. Obviously Gregory's plan of reform included all the 
states of western Europe, but conditions were such that the 
most striking conflict took place between him and the emperor. 
The trouble came about in this way. Henry III had died 
in 1056, leaving only his good wife Agnes and their little son 
of six years to maintain the hard-fought prerogatives of the 
German king in the midst of ambitious vassals such as even 
Otto the Great had found it difficult to control. 

In 1065 the fifteen-year-old lad was declared of age, and 
his Hfelong difficulties began with a great rebellion of the 
Saxons. They accused the young king of having built castles 
in their land and of filling them with rough soldiers who preyed 
upon the people. Gregory felt it his duty to interfere. To 
him the Saxons appeared a people oppressed by a heedless 
youth under the inspiration of evil counselors. 

As one reads of Henry's difficulties and misfortunes it 
seems miraculous that he was able to maintain himself as 
king at all. Sick at heart, unable to trust any one, and forced 
to flee from his own subjects, he writes contritely to the pope : 
" We have sinned against heaven and before thee and are no 
longer worthy to be called thy son." But when cheered for 
a moment by a victory over the rebellious Saxons, he easily 
forgot his promise of obedience to the pope. He continued 
to associate with counselors whom the pope had excommuni- 
cated and went on filling important bishoprics in Germany 
and Italy regardless of the pope's prohibitions. 

Gregory VII and Henry IV 167 

The popes who immediately preceded Gregory had more than New proMbi- 
once forbidden the churchmen to receive investiture from laymen, investiture. 
Gregory reissued this prohibition in 1075/ just as the trouble 
with Henry had begun. Investiture was, as we have seen, the 
legal transfer by the king, or other lord, to a newly chosen 
church official, of the lands and rights attached to the office. 
In forbidding lay investiture Gregory attempted nothing less 
than a revolution. The bishops and abbots were often officers 
of government, exercising in Germany and Italy powers similar 
in all respects to those of the counts. The king not only relied 
upon them for advice and assistance in carrying on his govern- 
ment, but they were among his chief allies in his constant 
struggles with his vassals. 

Gregory dispatched three envoys to Henry (end of 1075) Henry iv 
with a fatherly letter ^ in which he reproached the king for his thf language 
wicked conduct. But he evidently had little expectation that legates'. ^ 
mere expostulation would have any effect upon Henry, for he 
gave his legates instructions to use threats, if necessary, which 
were bound to produce either complete subjection or out-and- 
out revolt. The legates were to tell the king that his crimes 
were so numerous, so horrible, and so notorious, that he 
merited not only excommunication but the permanent loss 
of all his royal honors. 

The violence of the legates' language not only kindled the Gregory vii 
wrath of the king but also gained for him friends among a council 
the bishops. A council which Henry summoned at Worms bishops at 
(in 1076) was attended by more than two thirds of the 
German bishops. Here Gregory was declared deposed owing 
to the alleged irregularity of his election and the many terrible 
charges of immorality and ambition brought against him. The 
bishops renounced their obedience to him and publicly declared 

1 Reissues of this decree in 1078 and 1080 are given in the Readings, Chap- 
ter XIII. 

2 To be found in the Readings, Chapter XIII. 

Worms, 1076. 

1 68 History of Western Europe 

that he had ceased to be their pope. It appears very surpris- 
ing, at first sight, that the king should have received the prompt 
support of the German churchmen against the head of the 
Church. But it must be remembered that the prelates owed 
their offices to the king and not to the pope. 

In a remarkable letter ^ to Gregory, Henry asserts that he has 
shown himself long-suffering and eager to guard the honor of 
the papacy, but that the pope has mistaken his humility for 
fear. '' Thou hast not hesitated," the letter concludes, " to 
rise up against the royal power conferred upon us by God, 
daring to threaten to deprive us of it, as if we had received 
our kingdom from thee. As if the kingdom and the Empire 
were in thine and not in God's hands ... I, Henry, King 
by the grace of God, together with all our bishops, say unto 
thee, come down, come down from thy throne and be accursed 
of all generations." 
Henry IV Gregory's reply to Henry and the German bishops who had 

excommuni- deposed him was speedy and decisive. " Incline thine ear 
pope. to us, O Peter, chief of the Apostles. As thy representative 

and by thy favor has the power been granted especially to me 
by God of binding and loosing in heaven and earth. On the 
strength of this, for the honor and glory of thy Church, in the 
name of Almighty God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, I with- 
draw, through thy power and authority, from Henry the King, 
son of Henry the Emperor, who has risen against thy Church 
with unheard-of insolence, the rule over the whole kingdom of 
the Germans and over Italy. I absolve all Christians from the 
bonds of the oath which they have sworn, or may swear, to him ; 
and I forbid anyone to serve him as king." For his intercourse 
with the excommunicated and his manifold iniquities, the king 
is furthermore declared accursed and excommunicate.^ 

1 Henry's letter and one from the German bishops to the pope are both in 
Henderson, Historical Documents ^ pp. 372-376. 

2 Gregory's deposition and excommunication of Henry may be found in the 
Readings^ Chapter XHI. 

Gregory PVI and Henry IV 169 

For a time after the pope had deposed him everything went Attitude of 
against Henry. Even the churchmen now held off. Instead prfnces.'"^'^ 
of resenting the pope's interference, the discontented Saxons, 
and many other of Henry's vassals, beHeved that there was now 
an excellent opportunity to get rid of Henry and choose a more 
agreeable ruler. But after a long conference the great German 
vassals decided to give Henry another chance. He was to 
refrain from exercising the functions of government until he had 
made peace with the pope. If at the end of a year he had failed 
to do this, he was to be regarded as having forfeited the throne. 
The pope was, moreover, invited to come to Augsburg to con- 
sult with the princes as to whether Henry should be reinstated 
or another chosen in his stead. It looked as if the pope was, 
in truth, to control the civil government. 

Henry decided to anticipate the arrival of the pope. He Henry sut- 
1 1 1 » 1 • • 1 • 1 T , ™its to the 

hastened across the Alps m midwmter and appeared as an hum- pope at 

ble suppliant before the castle of Canossa, whither the pope had 1077. 

come on his way to Augsburg. For three days the German king 
appeared before the closed door, barefoot and in the coarse 
garments of a pilgrim and a penitent, and even then Gregory 
was induced only by the expostulations of his influential com- 
panions to admit the humiliated ruler. The spectacle of this 
mighty prince of distinguished appearance, humiliated and 
in tears before the nervous little man who humbly styled him- 
self the " servant of the servants of God," has always been 
regarded as most completely typifying the power of the Church 
and the potency of her curses, against which even the most 
exalted of the earth found no weapon of defense except abject 

65. The pardon which Henry received at Canossa did not a new king 
. ^ , ^ . ^ , . • 1 . • J 1- chosen, 

satisfy the German prmces ; for their main object in demanding 

that he should reconcile himself with the Church had been to 

1 For Gregory's own account of the affair at Canossa, see Readings, Chap- 
ter XIII. 


History of Westei'n Europe 

Henry again 

over Gregory. 

Death of 

Henry IV' 



cause him additional embarrassment. They therefore pro- 
ceeded to elect another ruler, and the next three or four years 
was a period of bloody struggles between the adherents of the 
rival kings. Gregory remained neutral until 1080, when he 
again "bound with the chain of anathema" Henry, "the so- 
called king," and all his followers. He declared him deprived 
of his royal power and dignity and forbade all Christians to 
obey him. 

The new excommunication had precisely the opposite effect 
from the first one. Henry's friends increased rather than 
decreased. The German clergy were again aroused, and they 
again deposed " this same most brazen Hildebrand." Henry's 
rival fell in battle, and Henry, accompanied by an antipope, 
betook himself to Italy with the double purpose of putting his 
pope on the throne and winning the imperial crown. Gregory 
held out for no less than two years, but at last Rome fell into 
Henry's hands and Gregory withdrew and soon died. His last 
words were, " I have loved justice and hated iniquity, there- 
fore I die an exile," and the fair-minded historical student will 
not question their truth. -^ 

The death of Gregory did not put an end to Henry's diffi- 
culties. He spent the remaining twenty years of his life in 
trying to maintain his rights as king of Germany and Italy 
against his rebeUious subjects on both sides of the Alps. In 
Germany his chief enemies were the Saxons and his discon- 
tented vassals. In Italy the pope was now actively engaged 
as a temporal ruler, in building up a Httle state of his own. 
He was, moreover, always ready to encourage the Lombard 
cities — which were growing more and more powerful and less 
and less willing to submit to the rule of a German — in their 
opposition to the emperor. 

1 For a fuller account of the troubles between Gregory and Henry, see Hen- 
derson, Germany m the Middle Ages, pp. 183-210; Emerton, Medicnml Europe, 
pp. 240-259. 

Gregory VII and Henry IV i j i 

A combination of his Italian enemies called Henry again to Rebellion at 
Italy in 1090, although he was forced to leave Germany but fnitliy'!'^ 
half subdued. He was seriously defeated by the Italians ; and HeSy'ssons 
the Lombard cities embraced the opportunity to form their first 
union against their foreign king. In 1093 Milan, Cremona, 
Lodi, and Piacenza joined in an offensive and defensive alliance 
for their own protection. After seven years of hopeless lin- 
gering in Italy, Henry returned sadly across the Alps, leaving 
the peninsula in the hands of his enemies. But he found 
no peace at home. His discontented German vassals induced 
his son, whom he had had crowned as his successor, to revolt 
against his father. Thereupon followed more civil war, more 
treason, and a miserable abdication. In 1106 death put an Death of 
end to perhaps the saddest reign that history records. noeP^ ' 

The achievement of the reign of Henry IV's son, Henry V, Henry v, 
which chiefly interests us was the adjustment of the question ^^° ""^^' 
of investitures. Pope Paschal II, while willing to recognize 
those bishops already chosen by the king, provided they were 
good men, proposed that thereafter Gregory's decrees against 
lay investiture should be carried out. The clergy should no 
longer do homage and lay their hands, consecrated to the 
service of the altar, in the blood-stained hands of the nobles. 
Henry V, on the other hand, declared that unless the clergy 
took the oath of fealty the bishops would not be given the 
lands, towns, castles, tolls, and privileges attached to the 

After a succession of troubles a compromise was at last settlement 

reached in the Concordat of Worms (1122), which put an tionofiay 

. . . . . „ 1 rr^, investiture 

end to the controversy over investitures in Germany.^ The inthecon- 

emperor promised to permit the Church freely to elect the worms, 1122. 

bishops and abbots and renounced his old claim to invest with 

the spiritual emblems of the ring and the crosier. But the 

elections were to be held in the presence of the king, and he 

1 See Readings^ Chapter XIII. 

1 72 Histoiy of Western Europe 

was permitted, in a separate ceremony, to invest the new 
bishop or abbot with his fiefs and secular prerogatives by 
a touch of the scepter. In this way the spiritual rights of 
the bishops were obviously conferred by the churchmen who 
elected him ; and although the king might still practically 
invalidate an election by refusing to invest with the coveted 
temporal privileges, still the direct appointment of the bishops 
and abbots was taken out of his hands. As for the emperor's 
control over the papacy, too many popes, since the advent of 
Henry IV, had been generally recognized as properly elected 
without the sanction of the emperor, for any one to believe 
any longer that his sanction was necessary. 



66. Frederick I, nicknamed Barbarossa, i.e., "Redbeard," Frederick i, 
who became king of Germany in 1 1 5 2 ,Ms the most interesting of 1152-1190. * 
all the German emperors ; and the records we have of his reign 
enable us to gain a pretty good view of Europe in the middle 
of the twelfth century. With his advent, we feel that we are 
emerging from that long period which used to be known as 
the dark ages. Most of our knowledge of European his- 
tory from the sixth to the twelfth century is derived from 
meager and unreliable monkish chronicles, whose authors were 
often ignorant and careless, and usually far away from the 
scenes of the events they recorded. In the latter half of the 
twelfth century, however, information grows much more abun- 
dant and varied. We begin to have records of the town life 
and are no longer entirely dependent upon the monks' records. • 
The first historian with a certain philosophic grasp of his theme 
was Otto of Freising. His Life of Frederick Barbarossa and The his- 
his history of the world form invaluable sources of knowledge of Freising. 
of the period we now enter. 

Frederick's ambition was to raise the Roman Empire to its Frederick's 
111 1 • n 1 1 , • 1 r 1 \^Q3.\ of the 

old glory and mfluence. He regarded hniiself as the successor Empire. 

of the Caesars, of Justinian, of Charlemagne, and of Otto the 
Great. He believed his office to be quite as divinely estab- 
lished as the papacy. In announcing his election to the pope, 
he stated that the Empire had been " bestowed upon him by 

1 For the emperors Lothaire (1125-1137) and Conrad III (1138-1152), the 
first of the Hohenstaufens, see Emerton, Mediceval Europe, pp. 271-282. 


History of Western Europe 

The towns 
begin to play 
a part in 

The govern- 
ment of the 

The turmoil 
in the Italian 
towns; their 

God," and he did not ask for the pope's sanction, as his pred- 
ecessors had done. But in his lifelong attempt to maintain 
what he assumed to be the rights of the emperor he encountered 
all the old difficulties. He had to watch his rebellious vassals 
in Germany and meet the opposition of a series of unflinching 
popes, ready to defend the most exalted claims of the papacy. 
He found, moreover, in the Lombard cities unconquerable 
foes, who finally brought upon him a signal defeat. 

67. One of the most striking differences between the ages 
before Frederick and the whole period since, lies in the devel- 
opment of town life, with all that that implies. Up to this 
time we have heard only of emperors, popes, bishops, and 
feudal lords; from now on the cities must be reckoned with, 
as Frederick was to discover to his sorrow.^ 

The government of the towns of Lombardy fell, after 
Charlemagne's time, into the hands of their respective bishops, 
who exercised the prerogatives of counts. Under the bishops 
the towns flourished within their walls and also extended 
their control over the neighboring districts. As industry and 
commerce increased, the prosperous citizens, and the poorer 
classes as well, aspired to some control over the government. 
Cremona very early expelled its bishop, destroyed his castle, 
and refused to pay him any dues. Later Henry IV stirred 
up Lucca against its bishop and promised that its liberties 
should never be interfered with henceforth by bishop, duke, 
or count. Other towns threw off the episcopal rule, and in 
practically all of them the government came at last into the 
hands of municipal officials elected by those citizens who were 
permitted to have a hand in the government. 

The more humble artisans were excluded altogether from a 
voice in city affairs. Their occasional revolts, as well as the 
feuds between the factions of the nobles, — who took up their 
residence in the towns instead of remaining on their estates, — 

1 Something will be said of the mediaeval towns in Chapter XVIII. 

TJie Hohetistaiifen Emperors and the Popes 175 

produced a turmoil which we should think intolerable in our 
modern peaceable cities. This was greatly increased by bitter 
wars with neighboring towns. Yet, in spite of incredible dis- 
order within and without, the Italian towns became centers of 
industry, learning, and art, unequaled in history except by the 

Italian Towns in the Twelfth Century 

famous cities of Greece. They were able, moreover, to main- 
tain their independence for several centuries. Frederick's diffi- 
culties in playing the emperor in Italy were naturally greatly 
increased by the sturdy opposition of the Lombard towns which 
could always count on a faithful ally in the pope. He and 


History of JVestern Europe 

they had a common interest in seeing that the power of the 
king of Germany remained purely nominal on their side of 
the mountains.-^ 
Frederick's 68. Milan was the most powerful of the Lombard towns 

tion to Italy, and was heartily detested by her neighbors, over whom she 
was constantly endeavoring to extend her control. Two refu- 
gees from Lodi brought word to the newly elected emperor 
of Milan's tyranny. When Frederick's representatives reached 
the offending city they were insulted and the imperial seal 
was trampled in the dust. Like the other towns, Milan would 
acknowledge the supremacy of the emperor only so long as 
he made it no trouble. The wish to gain the imperial crown 
and to see what this bold conduct of Milan meant, brought 
Frederick to Italy, in 1154, on the first of six expeditions, 
which together were to occupy many years of his reign. 

Frederick pitched his camp in the plain of Roncaglia and 
there received representatives from the Lombard towns, who 
had many and grievous complaints to make of the conduct of 
their neighbors, especially of the arrogant Milan. We get a 
hint of the distant commerce of the maritime cities when we 
read that Genoa sent gifts of ostriches, lions, and parrots. 
Frederick made a momentary impression by proceeding, upon 
the complaint of Pavia, to besiege and destroy the town of 
Tortona. As soon as he moved on to Rome, Milan plucked 
up courage to punish two or three neighbors who had too 
enthusiastically supported the emperor ; it also lent a hand to 
Tortona's hapless citizens in rebuilding their city. 

When the pope, Hadrian IV, and the emperor first met 
there was some bitter feeling because Frederick hesitated to 
hold the pope's stirrup. He made no further objection, how- 
ever, when he learned that it was the custom. Hadrian was 
relying upon his assistance, for Rome was in the midst of a 
remarkable revolution. Lender the leadership of the famous 

1 Reference, Emerton, Medicei'al Europe, pp. 271-291. 

and Pope 

The Hohenstatifcft Emperors and the Popes 177 

Arnold of Brescia,^ the city was attempting to reestablish a 
government similar to that of the times when the Roman 
senate ruled the civilized world. It is needless to say that the 
attempt failed, though Frederick gave the pope but Httle help 
against Arnold and the rebellious Romans. After receiving 
his crown, the emperor hastened back to Germany and left the 
disappointed Hadrian to deal with his refractory people as best 
he might. This desertion and later misunderstandings pro- 
duced much ill feeHng between the pope and Frederick. 

In 1 158 Frederick was back in Italy and held another great The assembly 
assembly at Roncaglia. He summoned hither certain teachers 1158.°°^^^ ^^' 
of the Roman law from Bologna (where the revived study of 
the law was actively pursued), as well as representatives of the 
towns, to decide exactly what his rights as emperor were. 
There was little danger but that those versed in a law which 
declared that "whatsoever the prince has willed has the 

force of law," should give the emperor his due. His regalia, its decision 

.1 . • 111 . . as to the 

or governmental prerogatives, were declared to consist m rights 

feudal suzerainty over the various duchies and counties, and o7the^ 

, . , . . 11 ,1 . emperor over 

in the right to appoint magistrates, collect tolls, impose an the Lombard 

extraordinary war tax, coin money, and enjoy the revenue 

from fisheries and from salt and silver mines. Such persons 

or towns as could produce proof that any of these privileges 

had been formally conceded to them might continue to enjoy 

them; otherwise the emperor assumed them. As most of 

the towns had simply succeeded to the rights of the bishops 

and had no legal proofs of any concessions from the emperor, 

this decision meant the loss of their independence. The 

emperor greatly increased his revenue for the moment; but 

these extreme measures and the hated governors whom he 

appointed to represent him were bound to produce ultimate 

revolt. It became a matter of Hfe and death to the towns to 

get rid of the imperial officials and taxgatherers. 

1 Reference, Emerton, Mediceval Europe^ pp. 293-297. 



History of Western Europe 

The destruc- 
tion of Crema 
and Milan. 

The Lom- 
bard towns 
unite to form 
the Lombard 

The town of Crema refused to level its walls at the command 
of the emperor. It had to undergo a most terrible siege and 
finally succumbed. Its citizens were allowed to depart with 
nothing but their lives, and the place was given over to plunder 
and destruction. Then Milan drove the emperor's deputies 
from the gates. A long siege brought even this proud city to 
terms ; and the emperor did not hesitate to order its destruc- 
tion, in spite of its commercial and political importance (i 162). 
It is a melancholy commentary upon the relations between the 
various towns that Milan's neighbors begged to be permitted 
to carry out her annihilation. Her inhabitants were allowed 
to settle in the neighborhood of the spot where their prosper- 
ous city had stood, and from the rapidity with which they were 
able to rebuild it later, we may conclude that the demohtion 
was not so thoroughgoing as some of the accounts imply. 

69. The only hope for the Lombard towns was in union^ 
which the emperor had explicitly forbidden. Soon after 
Milan's destruction measures were secretly taken to form the 
nucleus of what became later the great Lombard League. 
Cremona, Brescia, Mantua, and Bergamo joined together 
against the emperor. Encouraged by the pope and aided by 
the League, Milan was speedily rebuilt. Frederick, who had 
been engaged in conquering Rome with a view of placing an 
antipope on the throne of St. Peter, was glad, in 1167, to 
escape the combined dangers of Roman fever and the wrath 
of the towns and get back to Germany. The League was 
extended to include Verona, Piacenza, Parma, and eventually 
many other towns. It was even deemed best to construct an 
entirely new town, with a view of harboring forces to oppose 
the emperor on his return, and Alessandria remains a lasting 
testimonial to the energy and cooperative spirit of the League. 
The new town got its name from the League's ally. Pope 
Alexander III, one of the most conspicuous among the papal 
opponents of the German kings. 

TJie HoJienstatifeji Emperoj's and the Popes 1 79 

After several years spent in regulating affairs in Germany, Frederick 

Frederick again appeared in Lombardy. He found the new defeated by 
1 • • T 1 11 1 • the League 

"straw town, as the miperiahsts contemptuously called it, atLegnano, 

too strong for him. The League got its forces together, and 
a great battle took place at Legnano in 1176, — a really 
decisive conflict, which was rare enough in the Middle Ages. 
Frederick had been unable to get the reenforcements he 
wished from across the Alps, and, under the energetic lead- 
ership of Milan, the League so completely and hopelessly 
defeated him that the question of the mastery in Lombardy 
was settled for some time. 

A great congress was thereupon assembled at Venice, and Peace of Con- 
here, under the auspices of Pope Alexander III, a truce was establishes 

concluded, which was made a perpetual peace at Constance in of Lombard 

7 . . towns. 

1 183. The towns received back practically all their regalia 

and, upon formally acknowledging the emperor's overlordship, 

were left by him to go their own way. Frederick was forced, 

moreover, humbly to recognize a pope that he had solemnly 

sworn should never be obeyed by him. The pope and the towns 

had made common cause and enjoyed a common victory. 

From this time on we find the name Guelf assumed by the Origin of the 
T 1 1 • 1 1 1 --ni • • power of the 

party m Italy which was opposed to the emperors.^ ihis is Gueifs. 

but another form of the name of the Welf family, who made 
most of the trouble for the Hohenstaufens in Germany. A 
certain Welf had been made duke of Bavaria by Henry IV (in 
1070). His son added to the family estates by marrying a 
rich North-German heiress. His grandson, Henry the Proud, 
looked still higher and became the son-in-law of the duke of 
Saxony and the heir to his great duchy. This, added to his 
other vast possessions, made him the most powerful and dan- 
gerous of the vassals of the Hohenstaufen emperors. 

1 The origin of the name Ghibelline, applied to the adherents of the emperor 
in Italy, is not known ; it may be derived from Waibling, a castle of the Hohen- 


History of Western Eiiivpe 

Division of 
Saxony and 
the other 
great German 

The Hohen- 
extend their 
power into 

Henry VI, 

His troubles 
in Italy and 

On returning from his disastrous campaign against the 
Lombard towns, Frederick Barbarossa found himself at war with 
the Guelf leader, Henry the Lion (son of Henry the Proud), who 
had refused to come to the emperor's aid before the battle of 
Legnano. Henry was banished, and Frederick divided up the 
Saxon duchy. His policy was to split up the old duchies, for 
he clearly saw the danger of permitting his vassals to control 
districts as large as he himself held. 

70. Before his departure upon the crusading expedition 
during which he lost his life, Frederick saw his son, Henry VI, 
crowned king of Italy. Moreover, in order to extend the 
power of the Hohenstaufens over southern Italy, he arranged a 
marriage between the young Henry and Constance, the heiress 
to the Norman kingdom of Naples and Sicily.^ Thus the hope- 
less attempt to keep both Germany and Italy under the same 
head was continued. It brought about new conflicts with the 
popes, who were the feudal suzerains of Naples and Sicily, and 
ended in the ruin of the house of Hohenstaufen. 

Henry VI's short reign was beset with difficulties which 
he sturdily met and overcame. Henry the Lion, the Guelf 
leader, having broken the oath he had sworn to Frederick 
to keep away from Germany, returned and organized a rebel- 
lion. So soon as this was quelled and the Guelf party was 
under control for a time, Henry VI had to hasten south to 
rescue his Sicilian kingdom. There a certain Norman count, 
Tancred, was leading a national revolt against the German 

1 The attention of the adventurous Normans had been called to southern Italy 
early in the eleventh century by some of their people \vho, in their wanderings, 
had been stranded there and had found plenty of opportunities to fight under 
agreeable conditions for one or another of the local rival princes. From marauding 
mercenaries, they soon became the ruling race. They extended their conquests 
from the mainland to Sicily, and by 1140 they had united all southern Italy info 
a single kingdom. The popes had naturally taken a lively interest in the new and 
strong power upon the confines of their realms. They skillfully arranged to secure 
a certain hold upon the growing kingdom by inducing Robert Guiscard, the most 
famous of the Norman leaders, to recognize the pope as his feudal lord; in 1059 
he became the vassal of Nicholas II. 

The HoJienstatifen Emperors and the Popes 1 8 1 

claimant. The pope, who regarded Sicily as his fief, had freed 
the emperor's Norman subjects from their oath of fideHty to 
him. Moreover, Richard the Lion-Hearted of England had 
landed on his way to the Holy Land and aUied himself with 

Henry VFs expedition to Italy proved a complete disaster. 
His empress was captured by Tancred's people, his army largely 
perished by sickness, and Henry the Lion's son, whom he held 
as a hostage, escaped. To add to his troubles, no sooner had he 
reached Germany once more than he was confronted by a new 
and more formidable revolt (1192). Luckily for him, Richard, 
stealing home through Germany from his crusade, fell into his 
hands. He held the English king, as an ally of the Guelfs, 
until he obtained an enormous ransom, which supplied him 
with the means of fighting his enemies in both Germany and 
Italy. The death of Tancred enabled him to regain his realms 
in southern Italy. But he endeavored in vain to induce the 
German princes to recognize the permanent union of the south- 
ern Italian kingdom with Germany, or to make the imperial 
crown hereditary in his house. 

At the age of thirty-two, and in the midst of plans for a world Pope inno- 

cent III. 
empire, Henry succumbed to Italian fever, leaving the fate of 

the Hohenstaufen family in the hands of his infant son, who was 
to become the famous Frederick II. Just as Henry VI died, 
the greatest, perhaps, of all the popes was about to ascend the 
throne of St. Peter, and for nearly a score of years to domi- 
nate the political affairs of western Europe. For a time the 
poUtical power of the popes almost overshadows that of a 
Charlemagne or a Napoleon. In a later chapter a description 
will be given of the great institution over which Innocent HI 
presided like a monarch upon his throne. But first we must 
follow the history of the struggle between the papacy and 
the house of Hohenstaufen during the remarkable career of 
Frederick II. 


History of Western Europe 

Philip of 
and Otto of 
rival claim- 
ants for the 

Innocent III 
decides in 
favor of Otto. 

Innocent III 
the arbiter 
of western 

71. No sooner was Henry VI out of the way than Germany 
became, in the words of Henry's brother Philip, " like a sea 
lashed by every wind." So wild was the confusion, so torn and 
so shaken was poor Germany in all its parts, that farsighted 
men doubted if they would ever see it return to peace and 
order. Philip first proposed to play the role of regent to his 
Httle nephew, but before long he assumed the imperial pre- 
rogatives, after being duly elected king of the Romans. The 
Archbishop of Cologne, however, summoned an assembly and 
brought about the election of a rival king, Otto of Brunswick, 
the youthful son of Henry the Lion. 

So the old struggle between Guelf and Hohenstaufen was 
renewed. Both of the kings bid for the support of Innocent III, 
who openly proclaimed that the decision of the matter lay with 
him. Otto was willing to make the most reckless conces- 
sions to him ; and as the pope naturally feared a revival of the 
power of the Hohenstaufen house should Philip be recognized, 
he decided in favor of the Guelf claimant in 1201. The 
grateful Otto wrote to him, " My kingship would have dissolved 
in dust and ashes had not your hand, or rather the authority of 
the Apostolic Chair, weighed the scale in my favor." Innocent 
appears here, as upon other occasions, as the arbiter of Europe. 

In the dreary civil wars which followed in Germany, Otto 
gradually lost all his friends. His rival's promising career was' 
however, speedily cut short, for he was murdered by a private 
enemy in 1208. Thereupon the pope threatened to excom- 
municate any German bishop or prince who failed to support 
Otto. The following year Otto went to Rome to be crowned, 
but he promptly made an enemy of the pope by playing the 
emperor in Italy ; he even invaded the Sicilian kingdom of 
the pope's ward, Frederick, the son of Henry VI. 

Innocent then repudiated Otto, in whom he claimed to have 
" been deceived as God himself was once deceived in Saul." 
He determined that the young Frederick should be made 

TJic HolLejistaufcn Emperors and tJie Popes 183 

emperor, but he took great precautions to prevent him from 

becoming a dangerous enemy of the pope, as his father and 

grandfather had been. When Frederick was elected king in 

12 12 he made all the promises that Innocent asked. 

While the pope had been guiding the affairs of the empire John of Eng- 
,111 1 J 1 M • 1 • .1 l^°'i becomes 

he had by no means neglected to exhibit his power in other a vassal of 

quarters, above all in England. The monks of Canterbury 
had (1205) ventured to choose an archbishop — who was at 
the same time their abbot — without consulting their king, 
John. Their appointee hastened off to Rome to gain the 
pope's confirmation, while the irritated John forced the monks 
to hold another election and make his treasurer archbishop. 
Innocent thereupon rejected both of those who had been 
elected, sent for a new deputation of monks from Canterbury, 
and bade them choose Stephen Langton, a man of great ability. 
John then angrily drove the monks of Canterbury out of the 
kingdom. Innocent replied by placing England under the 
interdict^ that is to say, he ordered the clergy to close all the 
churches and suspend all public services, — a very terrible thing 
to the people of the time. John was excommunicated, and the 
pope threatened that unless the king submitted to his wishes 
he would depose him and give his crown to Philip Augustus of 
France. As Philip made haste to collect an army for the con- 
quest of England, John humbly submitted to the pope in 12 13. 
He went so far as to hand England over to Innocent III and 
receive it back as a fief, thus becoming the vassal of the pope. 
He agreed also to send a yearly tribute to Rome.^ 

Innocent, in spite of several setbacks, now appeared to have The fourth 
attained all his ambitious ends. The emperor, Frederick II, council, 1215= 
was his protege and, as king of Sicily, his acknowledged vassal, 
as was also the king of England. He not only asserted but also 

1 For John's cession of England and oath of vassalage, see Henderson, 
Historical Doctiments, pp. 430-432. For the interdict, see Colby, Sources, 
pp. 72-73. 


History of Western Europe 

Death of 
Innocent III, 
Frederick II, 

His bitter 
struggle with 
the papacy. 

maintained his right to interfere in all the important political 
affairs of the various European countries. In 12 15 a stately 
international congress — the fourth Lateran Council — met in 
his palace. It was attended by hundreds of bishops, abbots, 
and representatives of kings, princes, and towns. Its decrees 
were directed against the abuses in the Church and the progress 
of heresy, both of which were seriously threatening the power 
of the clergy. It confirmed the election of Frederick II and 
excommunicated once more the now completely discredited 

72. Innocent III died during the following year and left 
a heritage of trouble to his successors in the person of the 
former papal ward, Frederick II, who. was little inclined to obey 
the pope. He had been brought up in Sicily and was much 
influenced by the Arabic culture which prevailed there. He 
appears to have rejected many of the received opinions of the 
time. His enemies asserted that he was not even a Christian, 
and that he declared that Moses, Christ, and Mohammed were 
all alike impostors. He was nearsighted, bald, and wholly insig- 
nificant in person ; but he exhibited the most extraordinary 
energy and ability in the organization of his kingdom of Sicily, 
in which he was far more interested than in Germany. He 
drew up an elaborate code of laws for his southern realms and 
may be said to have founded the first modern well-regulated 
state, in which the king was indisputably supreme. 

We cannot stop to relate the romantic and absorbing story 
of his long struggle with the popes. They speedily discovered 
that he was bent upon establishing a powerful state to the south 
of them, and upon extending his control over the Lombard 
cities in such a manner that the papal possessions would be 
held as in a vise. This, they felt, should never be permitted. 
Almost every measure that Frederick adopted aroused their 

1 For the career and policy of Innocent III, see Emerton, Mediceval Enrope, 
PP- 3H-343- 

The Hohenstaufeii Emperors and the Popes 185 

suspicion and opposition, and they made every effort to destroy 
him and his house. 

His chance of success in the conflict with the head of the Frederick 
Church was gravely affected by the promise which he had asking^of 
made before Innocent Ill's death to undertake a crusade. 
He was so busily engaged with his endless enterprises that he 
kept deferring the expedition, in spite of the papal admoni- 
tions, until at last the pope lost patience and excommunicated 
him. While excommunicate, he at last started for the East. 
He met with signal success and actually brought Jerusalem, 
the Holy City, once more into Christian hands and was himself 
recognized as king of Jerusalem. 

Frederick's conduct continued, however, to 'give offense to Extinction of 

the popes. The emperor was denounced in solemn councils, staufens' 

and at last the popes began to raise up rival kings in Germany 

to replace Frederick, whom they deposed. After Frederick 

died (1250) his sons maintained themselves for a few years 

in the Sicilian kingdom ; but they finally gave way before a 

French army, led by the brother of St. Louis, Charles of 

Anjou, upon whom the pope bestowed the southern realms 

of the Hohenstaufens.^ 

With Frederick's death the mediaeval empire may be said Frederick's 

to have come to an end. It is true that after a period of " fist the close of 

law," as the Germans call it, a new king, Rudolf of Hapsburg, empire. 

was elected in Germany in 1273. The German kings continued 

to call themselves emperors. Few of them, however, took 

the trouble to go to Rome to be crowned by the pope. No 

serious effort was ever made to reconquer the Italian territory 

for which Otto the Great, Frederick Barbarossa, and his son 

and grandson had made such serious sacrifices. Germany 

was hopelessly divided and its king was no real king. He had 

no capital, no well- organized government. 

1 An excellent account of Frederick's life is given by Henderson, Germany in 
the Middle Ages, pp. 349-397. 


History of Western Europe 

Division of 
Germany and 
Italy into 
small inde- 

By the middle of the thirteenth century it became apparent 
that neither Germany nor Italy was to be converted into a 
strong single kingdom like England and France. The map 
of Germany shows a confused group of duchies, counties, 
archbishoprics, bishoprics, abbacies, and free towns, each one 
of which asserted its practical independence of the weak king 
and emperor. 

In northern Italy each town, including a certain district 
about its walls, had become an independent state, deaUng with 
its neighbors as with independent powers. The Italian towns 
were destined to become the birthplace of our modern culture 
during the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. Venice and 
Florence, in s'pite of their small size, came to be reckoned 
among the most important states of Europe. In the central 
part of the peninsula the pope maintained more or less control 
over his possessions, but he often failed to subdue the towns 
within his realms. To the south Naples remained for some 
time under the French dynasty, which the pope had called in, 
but the island of Sicily drifted into Spanish hands. 



73. Of all the events of the Middle Ages, the most romantic 
and fascinating are the Crusades, the adventurous expeditions 
to Syria, undertaken by kings and doughty knights with the 
hope of permanently reclaiming the Holy Land from the infidel 
Turks. All through the twelfth and thirteenth centuries each 
generation beheld at least one great army of crusaders gather- 
ing from all parts of the West and starting toward the Orient. 
Each year witnessed the departure of small bands of pilgrims or 
of solitary soldiers of the cross. For two hundred years there 
was a continuous stream of Europeans of every rank and 
station making their way into western Asia. If they escaped 
the countless hazards of the journey, they either settled in this 
distant land and devoted themselves to war or commerce, or 
returned home, bringing with them tales of great cities and 
new peoples, of skill and luxury unknown in the West. 

Our sources of information in regard to the Crusades are Natural 
so abundant and so rich in picturesque incidents that writers to overrate 
have often yielded to the temptation to give more space to tanceofthe 
these expeditions than their consequences really justify. They 
were, after all, only one of the great foreign enterprises which 
have been undertaken from time to time by the European 
peoples. While their influence upon the West was doubtless 
very important, — like that of the later conquest of India by 
the English and the colonization of America, — the details 
of the campaigns in the East scarcely belong to the history of 
western Europe. 




History of Western Europe 

The Holy 
Land con- 
quered first 
by the Arabs 
and then by 
the Turks. 

appeals to 
the pope for 
aid against 
the infidel 

Urban II 
issues the 
call to the 
First Crusade 
at the Council 
of Clermont, 

Syria had been overrun by the Arabs in the seventh century, 
shortly after the death of Mohammed, and the Holy City of 
Jerusalem had fallen into the hands of the infidels. The 
Arab, however, shared the veneration of the Christian for the 
places associated with the life of Christ and, in general, per- 
mitted the Christian pilgrims who found their way thither to 
worship unmolested. But with the coming of a new and 
ruder people, the Seljuk Turks, in the eleventh century, the 
pilgrims began to bring home news of great hardships. More- 
over, the eastern emperor was defeated by the Turks in 107 1 
and lost Asia Minor. The presence of the Turks in possession 
of the fortress of Nicaea, just across from Constantinople, was 
of course a standing menace to the Eastern Empire. When the 
energetic Emperor Alexius (1081-1118) ascended the throne 
he endeavored to expel the infidel. Finding himself unequal 
to the task, he appealed for assistance to the head of Christen- 
dom, Urban II. The first great impetus to the Crusades was 
the call issued by Urban at the celebrated council which met 
in 1095 at Clermont in France. 

In an address, which produced more remarkable immediate 
results than any other which history records, the pope exhorted 
knights and foot soldiers of all ranks to give up their usual 
wicked business of destroying their Christian brethren in private 
warfare and turn instead to the succor of their fellow-Christians 
in the East. Otherwise the insolent Turks would, if unchecked, 
extend their sway still more widely over the faithful servants 
of the Lord. "Let the Holy Sepulcher of the Lord our 
Saviour, which is possessed by unclean nations, especially urge 
you on, and the holy places which they are now treating with 
ignominy and irreverently polluting." Urban urged besides 
that France was too poor to support all its people, while the 
Holy Land flowed with milk and honey. " Enter upon the road 
to the Holy Sepulcher ; wrest the land from the wicked race 
and subject it to yourselves." When the pope had finished. 

The Crusades 189 

all who were present exclaimed, with one accord, " It is the will 
of God." This, the pope declared, should be the rallying cry 
of the crusaders, who were to wear a cross upon their bosoms 
as they went forth, and upon their backs as they returned, as 
a holy sign of their sacred mission.^ 

The Crusades are ordinarily represented as the most striking The motives 
examples of the simple faith and religious enthusiasm of the crusaders. 
Middle Ages. They appealed, however, to many different 
kinds of men. The devout, the romantic, and the adventurous 
were by no means the only classes that were attracted. Syria 
held out inducements to the discontented noble who might 
hope to gain a principality in the East, to the merchant who 
was looking for new enterprises, to the merely restless who 
wished to avoid his responsibilities at home, and even to the 
criminal who enlisted with a view of escaping the results of his 
past offenses. It is noteworthy that Urban appeals especially 
to those who had been " contending against their brethren and 
relatives," and urges those " who have hitherto been robbers now 
to become soldiers of Christ." The conduct of many of the 
crusaders indicates that the pope found a ready hearing among 
this class. Yet higher motives than a love of adventure and 
the hope of conquest impelled many who took their way east- 
ward. Great numbers, doubtless, went to Jerusalem ''through 
devotion alone, and not for the sake of honor or gain," with 
the sole object of freeing the Holy Sepulcher from the hands 
of the infidel. 

To such as these the pope promised that the journey itself Privileges 
should take the place of all penance for sin. The faithful cru- crusaders, 
sader, Hke the faithful Mohammedan, was assured of immediate 
entrance into heaven if he died repentant in the holy cause. 
Later the Church exhibited its extraordinary authority by what 
would seem to us an unjust interference with business con- 
tracts. It freed those who, with a pure heart, entered upon 

1 For the speech of Urban, see Readings^ Chapter XV. 

1 90 History of Western Europe 

the journey from the payment of interest upon their debts, and 
permitted them to mortgage property against the wishes of their 
feudal lords. The crusaders' wives and children and property 
were taken under the immediate protection of the Church, 
and he who troubled them incurred excommunication.^ These 
various considerations help to explain the great popularity of 
undertakings that, at first sight, would seem to have promised 
only hardships and disappointment. 
Peter the 74* The Council of Clermont met in November. Before 

his army. spring (109 6) those who set forth to preach the Crusade, 
above all the famous Peter the Hermit, who was formerly given 
credit for having begun the whole crusading movement, had 
collected, in France and along the Rhine, an extraordinary 
army of the common folk. Peasants, artisans, vagabonds, and 
even women and children, answered the summons, all fanat- 
ically intent upon rescuing the Holy Sepulcher, two thousand 
miles away. They were confident that the Lord would sustain 
them during the weary leagues of the journey, and grant 
them a prompt victory over the infidel. The host was got 
under way in several divisions under the leadership of Peter 
the Hermit,^ and of Walter the Penniless and other humble 
knights. Many of the crusaders were slaughtered by the 
Hungarians, who rose to protect themselves from the depreda- 
tions of this motley horde. Part of them got as far as Nicgea, 
only to be slaughtered by the Turks. This is but an example, 
on a large scale, of what was going on continually for a century 
or. so after this first great catastrophe. Individual pilgrims 
and adventurers, and sometimes considerable bodies of cru- 
saders, were constantly falling a prey to every form of disaster 
— starvation, slavery, disease, and death — in their endeavors 
to reach the Holy Land. 

''^ The privileges of the crusaders may be found in Tratislafwfis and 
Reprints^ Vol. I, No. 2. 

2 For Peter the Hermit, see Translations and Reprints, Vol. I, No. 2. 

The Crusades 


The conspicuous figures of the long period of the Crusades The First 
are not, however, to be found among the lowly followers of Peter 1096. ' 
the Hermit, but are the knights, in their long coats of mail. 
A year after the summons issued at Clermont great armies of 
fighting men had been collected in the West under noble 
leaders ; — the pope speaks of three hundred thousand soldiers. 
Of the various divisions which were to meet in Constantinople, 
the following were the most important : 
the volunteers from Provence under the 
papal legate and Count Raymond of 
Toulouse ; inhabitants of Germany, par- 
ticularly of Lorraine, under Godfrey of 
Bouillon and his brother Baldwin, both 
destined to be rulers of Jerusalem ; and 
lastly, an army of French and of the Nor- 
mans of southern Italy under Bohemond 
and Tancred.^ 

The distinguished knights who have 
been mentioned were not actually in 
command of real armies. Each crusader 
undertook the expedition on his own 
account and was only obedient to any 
one's orders so long as he pleased. The 
knights and men naturally grouped them- 
selves around the more noted leaders, but 
considered themselves free to change chiefs when they pleased. 
The leaders themselves reserved the right to look out for their 
own special interests rather than sacrifice themselves to the 
good of the expedition. 

Upon the arrival of the crusaders at Constantinople it Hostilities 
• 1 1 1 1 1 , 1 1 T 1 • between the 

quickly became clear that they had httle more in common Greeks and 

the crusaders 

with the Greeks than with the Turks. Emperor Alexius 

Knight of the First 

1 For the routes taken by the different crusading armies, see the accompanying 

192 History of Western Europe 

ordered his soldiers to attack Godfrey's army, encamped in 
the suburbs of his capital, because their chief at first refused 
to take the oath of feudal homage to him. The emperor's 
daughter, in her remarkable history of the times, gives a sad 
picture of the outrageous conduct of the crusaders. Ihey, 
on the other hand, denounced the "schismatic Greeks" as 
traitors, cowards, and liars. 

The eastern emperor had hoped to use his western alhes to 
reconquer Asia Minor and force back the Turks. The leading 
knights, on the contrary, dreamed of carving out principalities 
for themselves in the former dominions of the emperor and 
proposed to control them by right of conquest. Later we find 
both Greeks and western Christians shamelessly allying them- 
selves with the Mohammedans against each other. The rela- 
tions of the eastern and western enemies of the Turks were 
well illustrated when the crusaders besieged their first town, 
Nicaea. When it was just ready to surrender, the Greeks 
arranged with the enemy to have their troops admitted first. 
They then closed the gates against their western confederates 
and invited them to move on. 

Dissension The first real allies that the crusaders met with were the 

among th( 
leaders of 

fe^de?s of the Christian Armenians, who brought them aid after their terrible 

march through Asia Minor. With their help Baldwin got 
possession of Edessa, of which he made himself prince. The 
chiefs induced the great body of the crusaders to postpone 
the march on Jerusalem, and a year was spent in taking the 
rich and important city of Antioch. A bitter strife then broke 
out, especially between the Norman Bohemond and the count of 
Toulouse, as to who should have the conquered town. After 
the most unworthy conduct on both sides, Bohemond won, and 
Raymond set to work to conquer a principality for himself on 
the coast about Tripoli. 
Capture of In the spring of 1099 about twenty thousand warriors finally 

moved upon Jerusalem. They found the city well walled and 


The Crusades 


in the midst of a desolate region where neither food nor water, 
nor the materials to construct the apparatus necessary for the 
capture of the town, were to be found. The opportune arrival 
at Jaffa of galleys from Genoa furnished the besiegers with 

Map of the Crusaders' States in Syria 

supplies, and, in spite of all the difficulties, the place was taken 
in a couple of months. The crusaders, with their customary 
barbarity, massacred the inhabitants. Godfrey of Bouillon 
was chosen ruler of Jerusalem and took the modest title of 


History of Western Europe 

of Latin 
in Syria. 

The Hos- 

"Defender of the Holy Sepulcher." He soon died and was 
succeeded by his brother Baldwin, who left Edessa in iioo to 
take up the task of extending the bounds of the Kingdom of 

It will be observed that the " Franks," as the Mohammedans 
called all the western folk, had established the centers of four 
principalities. These were Edessa, Antioch, the region about 
Tripoli conquered by Raymond, and the Kingdom of Jeru- 
salem. The last was speedily increased by Baldwin ; with the 
help of the mariners from Venice and Genoa, he succeeded in 
getting possession of Acre, Sidon, and a number of coast towns. 

The news of these Christian victories quickly reached the 
West, and in iioi tens of thousands of new crusaders started 
eastward. Most of them were lost or dispersed in passing 
through Asia Minor, and few reached their destination. The 
original conquerors were consequently left to hold the land 
against the Saracens and to organize their conquests as best 
they could. 

The permanent hold of the Franks upon the eastern borders 
of the Mediterranean depended upon the strength of the colo- 
nies which their various princes were able to establish. It is 
impossible to learn how many pilgrims from the West made 
their permanent homes in the new Latin principalities. Cer- 
tainly the greater part of those who visited Palestine returned 
home after fulfilling their vow to kneel at the Holy Sepulcher. 
Still the princes could rely upon a certain number of soldiers 
who would be willing to stay and fight the Mohammedans. 
The Turks, moreover, were so busy fighting one another that 
they showed less energy than might have been expected in 
attempting to drive the Franks from the narrow strip of terri- 
tory — some five hundred miles long and fifty wide — which 
they had conquered. 

75. A noteworthy outcome of the crusading movement was 
the foundation of several curious orders — the Hospitalers, the 

TJie Crusades 


Templars, and the Teutonic Knights — which combined the 
dominant interests of the time, those of the monk and the sol- 
dier. They permitted a man to be both at once ; the knight 
might wear a monkish cowl over his coat of mail. The Hos- 
pitalers grew out of a monastic association that was formed 
before the First Crusade for the succor of the poor and 
sick among the pilgrims. Later the society admitted noble 
knights to its membership and became a military order, while 
continuing its care for the sick. This charitable association, 
like the earlier monasteries, received 
generous gifts of land in western Europe 
and built and controlled many forti- 
fied monasteries in the Holy Land 
itself. After the evacuation of Syria in 
the thirteenth century, the Hospitalers 
moved their headquarters to the island 
of Rhodes, and later to Malta. The 
order still exists and it is considered 
a distinction to this day to have the 
privilege of wearing its emblem, the 
cross of Malta. 

Before the Hospitalers were trans- 
formed into a mihtary order, a little Costume of the Hospital 
group of French knights banded to- 
gether in 1 1 19 to defend pilgrims on 

their way to Jerusalem from the attacks of the infidel. They 
were assigned quarters in the king's palace at Jerusalem on 
the site of the former Temple of Solomon ; hence the name, The 
Templars, which they were destined to render famous. The 
"poor soldiers of the Temple " were enthusiastically approved 
by the Church. They wore a white cloak adorned with a red 
cross, and were under a very strict monastic rule which bound 
them by the vows of obedience, poverty, and celibacy. The 
fame of the order spread throughout Europe, and the most 

ers, showing the Form 
of the Cross of Malta 


196 History of Western Europe 

exalted, even dukes and princes, were ready to renounce the 
world and serve Christ under its black and white banner, with 
the legend, No7i jiobis, Doinine. 

The order was aristocratic from the first, and it soon became 
incredibly rich and independent. It had its collectors in all 
parts of Europe, who dispatched the "alms" they received to 
the Grand Master at Jerusalem. Towns, churches, and estates 
were given to the order, as well as vast sums of money. The 
king of Aragon proposed to bestow upon it a third of his 
kingdom. The pope showered privileges upon the Templars. 
They were exempted from tithes and taxes, and were brought 
under his immediate jurisdiction ; they were released from 
feudal obligations, and bishops were forbidden to excommuni- 
cate them. 
Abolition of No wonder they grew insolent and aroused the jealousy and 

Templars. hate of princes and prelates alike. Even Innocent III violently 
upbraided them for admitting to their order wicked men, who 
then enjoyed all the privileges of churchmen. Early in the 
fourteenth century, through the combined efforts of the pope 
and Philip the Fair of France, the order was brought to a ter- 
rible end. Its members were accused of the most abominable 
practices, — such as heresy, the worship of idols, and the sys- 
tematic insulting of Christ and his religion. Many distin- 
guished Templars were burned for heresy, others perished 
miserably in dungeons. The order was abolished and its 
property confiscated. 
The Teutonic As for the third great order, that of the Teutonic Knights, their 
quer^the ^°°' greatest importance lies in their conquest, after the Crusades 
were over, of the heathen Prussians. Through their efforts a 
new Christian state was formed on the shores of the Baltic, in 
which the important cities of Konigsberg and Dantzig grew up. 
The second 76. Fifty years after the preaching of the First Crusade, the 

fall of Edessa (1144), an important outpost of the Christians 
in the East, led to a second great expedition. This was 

The Crusades 197 

forwarded by no less a person than St. Bernard, who went 
about using his unrivaled eloquence to induce volunteers to 
take the cross. In a fierce hymn of battle he cried to the 
Knights Templars : " The Christian who slays the unbeliever 
in the Holy War is sure of his reward, the more sure if he 
himself be slain. The Christian glories in the death of the 
pagan, because Christ is glorified." The king of France readily 
consented to take the cross, but the emperor, Conrad III, 
appears to have yielded only after St. Bernard had preached 
before him and given a vivid picture of the terrors of the 
Judgment Day. 

In regard to the less distinguished recruits, the historian. 
Otto of Freising, tells us that so many thieves and robbers 
hastened to take the cross that every one recognized in their 
enthusiasm the hand of God. St. Bernard himself, the chief 
promoter of the expedition, gives a most unflattering descrip- 
tion of the " soldiers of Christ." " In that countless multitude 
you will find . few except the utterly wicked and impious, the 
sacrilegious, homicides, and perjurers, whose departure is a 
double gain. Europe rejoices to lose them and Palestine to 
gain them ; they are useful in both ways, in their absence from 
here and their presence there." It is quite unnecessary to 
describe the movements and fate of the crusaders ; suffice it 
to say that, from a miUtary standpoint, the so-called Second 
Crusade was a miserable failure. 

Forty years later, in 1187, Jerusalem was taken by Saladin, The Third 
the most heroic and distinguished of all the Saracen rulers. 
The loss of the Holy City led to the most famous of all the 
military expeditions to the Holy Land, in which Frederick 
Barbarossa, Richard the Lion-Hearted of England, and his 
pohtical rival, Philip Augustus of France, all took part. 
The accounts of the enterprise show that while the several 
Christian leaders hated one another heartily enough, the Chris- 
tians and Saracens were coming to respect one another. 


History of JVestcru Europe 

The Fourth 
and subse- 

We find examples of the most courtly relations between the 
representatives of the opposing religions. In 1192 Richard 
concluded a truce with Saladin, by the terms of which the 
Christian pilgrims were allowed to visit the holy places with 
safety and comfort.^ 

In the thirteenth century the crusaders began to direct their 
expeditions toward Egypt as the center of the Saracen power. 
The first of these was diverted in an extraordinary manner by 
the Venetians, who induced the crusaders to conquer Constanti- 
nople for their benefit. The further expeditions of Frederick II 
and St. Louis need not be described. Jerusalem was irrevocably 

Ruins of a Fortress of the Hospitalers in the Holy Land 

of the Italian 

lost in 1244, and although the possibility of recovering the city 
was long considered, the Crusades may be said to have come 
to a close before the end of the thirteenth century. 

77* For one class at least, the Holy Land had great and 
permanent charms, namely, the Italian merchants, especially 
those from Genoa, Venice, and Pisa. It was through their early 
interest and supplies from their ships, that the conquest of 
the Holy Land had been rendered possible. The merchants 
were always careful to see that they were well paid for their 
services. When they aided in the successful siege of a town 

1 For an account of the prowess of Richard the Lion-Hearted, see Colby, 
Sources, pp. 68-70. 

TJie Crusades 



they arranged that a definite quarter should be assigned to them 
in the captured place, where they might have their market, 
docks, church, and all that was necessary for a permanent 
center for their commerce. This district belonged to the town 
to which the merchants belonged. Venice even sent governors 
to live in the quarters assigned to its citizens in the Kingdom 
of Jerusalem. Marseilles also had independent quarters in 
Jerusalem, and Genoa had its share in the county of TripoH. 

This new commerce had a most important influence in Oriental 
bringing the West into permanent relations with the Orient, ducedinto'^^' 
Eastern products from India and elsewhere — silks, spices, 
camphor, musk, 
pearls, and ivory 
— were brought 
by the Mohamme- 
dans from the East 
to the commercial 
towns of Palestine 
and Syria ; then, 
through the Ital- 
ian merchants, 
they found their 
way into France 

and Germany, suggesting ideas of luxury hitherto scarcely 
dreamed of by the still half-barbarous Franks. 

Some of the results of the Crusades upon western Europe Results of 

, , , . - , . 1 . r the Crusades, 

must already be obvious, even from this very brief account. 

Thousands and thousands of Frenchmen, Germans, and Eng- 
lishmen had traveled to the Orient by land and by sea. Most 
of them came from hamlets or castles where they could never 
have learned much of the great world beyond the confines 
of their native village or province. They suddenly found 
themselves in great cities and in the midst of unfamiliar 
peoples and customs. This could not fail to make them 

Tomb of a Crusader 

200 History of Western Enrope 

think and give them new ideas to carry home. The Crusade 
took the place of a hberal education. The crusaders came 
into contact with those who knew more than they did, above 
all the Arabs, and brought back with them new notions of 
comfort and luxury. 

Yet in attempting to estimate the debt of the West to the 
Crusades it should be remembered that many of the new 
things may well have come from Constantinople, or through 
the Saracens of Sicily and Spain, quite independently of the 
armed incursions into Syria.'^ Moreover, during the twelfth 
and thirteenth centuries towns were rapidly growing up in 
Europe, trade and manufactures were extending, and the 
universities were being founded. It would be absurd to sup- 
pose that without the Crusades this progress would not have 
taken place. So we may conclude that the distant expe- 
ditions and the contact with strange and more highly civilized 
peoples did no more than hasten the improvement which was 
already perceptible before Urban made his ever-memorable 
address at Clermont.^ 

General Reading. — A somewhat fuller account of the Crusades 
will be found in Emerton, MedicBval Europe, Chapter XI. Their 
results are discussed in Adams, Civilization, Chapter XI. Professor 
Munro has published a number of very interesting documents in 
Translations and Reprints, Vol. I, Nos. 2, 4 (Letters of the Crusaders), 
and Vol. Ill, No. i (The Fourth Crusade). See also his MedicBval 
History, Chapter XI, on the Crusades. Archer and Kingsford, The 
Crusades (G. P. Putnam's Sons, ^1.50), is probably the best modern 
work in English. 

1 Heraldry may be definitely ascribed to the Crusades, for it grew up from 
the necessity of distinguishing the various groups of knights. Some of its 
terms, for example, gtiles (red) and aztir, are of Arabic origin. 

2 References. For the highly developed civilization which the crusaders found 
in Constantinople, Munro, Mediceval History, Chapter X. For the culture of 
the Saracens, see tlie same work, Chapter IX. 



78. In the preceding pages it has been necessary to refer 
constantly to the Church and the clergy. Indeed, without 
them mediaeval history would become almost a blank, for the 
Church was incomparably the most important institution of 
the time and its officers were the soul of nearly every great 
enterprise. In the earlier chapters, the rise of the Church 
and of its head, the pope, has been reviewed, as well as the 
work of the monks as they spread over Europe. We must 
now consider the mediaeval Church as a completed institu- 
tion at the height of its power in the twelfth and thirteenth 

We have already had abundant proofs that the mediaeval ways in 
Church was very different from modern churches, whether mediaeval 

_, , ,. ^ Church dif- 

Cathohc or Protestant. fered from 

T 1 r- 1 -111 modern 

1. In the first place, every one was required to belong to churches. 

it, just as we all" must belong to the state to-day. One was 

not born into the Church, it is true, but he was ordinarily Membership 

baptized into it before he had any opinion in the matter. All mediaeval 

^ r 1 -IT- • • r Church 

western Europe formed a single religious association, irom compulsory, 
which it was a crime to revolt. To refuse allegiance to the 
Church, or to question its authority or teachings, was reputed 
treason against God and was punishable with death. 

2. The mediaeval Church did not rely for its support. The wealth 
as churches usually must to-day, upon the voluntary con- church, 
tributions of its members. It enjoyed, in addition to the 
revenue from its vast tracts of lands and a great variety of 


History of Western Europe 

The tithe. 

of the Church 
to a state. 

Unity of 
in the 

The medi- 
aeval Church 
a monarchy 
in its form of 
government . 

fees, the income from a regular tax, the tithe. Those upon 
whom this fell were forced to pay it, just as we all must now 
pay taxes imposed by the government. 

3. It is obvious, moreover, that the mediaeval Church was 
not merely a religious body, as churches are to-day. Of course 
it maintained places of worship, conducted devotional exercises, 
and cultivated the spiritual life ; but it did far more. It was, in 
a way, a state, for it had an elaborate system of law, and its 
own courts, in which it tried many cases which are now settled 
in our ordinary tribunals.^ It had also its prisons, to which 
it might sentence offenders to lifelong detention. 

4. The Church not only performed the functions of a state ; 
it had the organization of a state. Unlike the Protestant minis- 
ters of to-day, all churchmen and religious associations of medi- 
aeval Europe were under one supreme head, who made laws for 
all and controlled every church officer, wherever he might be, 
whether in Italy or Germany, Spain or Ireland. The whole 
Church had one official language, Latin, in which all com- 
munications were dispatched and in which its services were 
everywhere conducted. 

79. The mediaeval Church may, therefore, properly be called 
a monarchy in its government. The pope was its all-powerful 
and absolute head and concentrated in his person its entire 
spiritual and temporal authority. He was the supreme law- 
giver. No council of the Church, no matter how large and 

1 The law of the Church was known as the caiion law. It was taught in most 
of the universities and practiced by a great number of lawyers. It was based 
upon the acts of the various church councils, from that of Nica2a down, and, above 
all, upon the decrees and decisions of the popes. See Emerton, Medieval 
Europe, pp. 582-592. 

One may get some idea of the business of the ecclesiastical courts from the 
fact that the Church claimed the right to try all cases in which a clergyman was 
involved, or any one connected with the Church or under its special protection, 
such as monks, students, crusaders, widows, orphans, and the helpless. Then 
all cases where the rites of the Church, or its prohibitions, were involved came 
ordinarily before the church courts, as, for example, those concerning marriage, 
wills, sworn contracts, usury, blasphemy, sorcery, heresy, and so forth. 

TJie MedicBval Church at its Height 203 

important, could make laws against his will, for its decrees, 

to be valid, required his sanction. 

The pope might, moreover, set aside or abrogate any law of Dispensa- 

the Church, no matter how ancient, so long as it was not 

ordained by the Scriptures or by Nature. He might, for good 

reasons, make exceptions to all merely human laws ; as, for 

instance, permit cousins to marry, or free a monk from his 

vows. Such exceptions were known as dispensations. 

The pope was not merely the supreme lawgiver ; he was the The pope 

• 1 » T • -111 1 • 1 • 1 , ^^6 supreme 

supreme ludere. As a distmguished legal writer has said, the judge of 

y ^ c ^ ,• ,..,.. ' Christendom, 

whole of western Europe was subject to the jurisdiction of one 

tribunal of last resort, the pope's court at Rome. Any one, 
whether clergyman or layman, in any part of Europe, could 
appeal to him at any stage in the trial of a large class of cases. 
Obviously this system had serious drawbacks. Grave injus- 
tice might be done by carrying to Rome a case which ought 
to have been settled in Edinburgh or Cologne, where the facts 
were best known. The rich, moreover, always had the advan- 
tage, as they alone could afford to bring suits before so distant 
a court. 

The control of the pope over the clergy scattered throughout The control 
Christendom was secured in several ways. A newly elected over the 

clcrsTv 3.t 

archbishop might not venture to perform any of the duties of large, 
his office until he had taken an oath of fidelity and obedience 
to the pope and received from him the paUiu7?i, the arch- 
bishop's badge of office. This was a narrow woolen scarf 
made by the nuns of the convent of St. Agnes at Rome. 
Bishops and abbots were also required to have their election 
duly confirmed by the pope. He claimed, too, the right to 
settle the very frequent disputed elections of church officials. 
He might even set aside both of the rival candidates and fill 
the office himself, as did Innocent HI when he forced the 
monks of Canterbury, after a double election, to choose 
Stephen Langton. 


Histoiy of Western Europe 

The Roman 

Sources of 
the pope's 

The arch- 

Since the time of Gregory VII the pope had claimed the right 
to depose and transfer bishops at will. The control of Rome 
over all parts of the Christian Church was further increased 
by the legates. These papal emissaries were intrusted with 
great powers. Their haughty mien often enough offended the 
prelates and rulers to whom they brought home the authority 
of the pope, — as, for instance, when the legate Pandulf grandly 
absolved all the subjects of King John of England, before his 
very face, from their oath of fealty to him. 

The task assumed by the pope of governing the whole 
western world naturally made it necessary to create a large 
body of officials at Rome in order to transact all the multi- 
form business and prepare and transmit the innumerable legal 
documents.^ The cardinals and the pope's officials constituted 
what was called the papal Curia, or court. 

To carry on his government and meet the expenses of pal- 
ace and retinue, the pope had need of a vast income. This 
he secured from various sources. Heavy fees were exacted 
from those who brought suits to his court for decision. The 
archbishops were expected to make generous contributions on 
receiving their palliums, and the bishops and abbots upon their 
confirmation. In the thirteenth century the pope began to fill 
many benefices throughout Europe himself, and customarily 
received half the first year's revenues from those whom he 
appointed. For several centuries before the Protestants finally 
threw off their allegiance to the popes, there was widespread 
complaint ■ on the part of both clergy and laymen that the 
fees and taxes levied by the Curia were excessive. 

80. Next in order below the head of the Church were 
the archbishops. An archbishop was a bishop whose power 
extended beyond the boundaries of his own diocese and who 
exercised a certain control over all the bishops within his 

1 Many of the edicts, decisions, and orders of the popes were called bulls from 
the seal (Latin, bulla) attached to them. 

The Mediceval CJiurcJi at its Height 


province} One of the chief prerogatives of the archbishop 
was the right to summon the bishops of his province to meet 
in a provincial council. His court received appeals from the 

Ecclesiastical Map of France in the Middle Ages 

bishops' courts. Except, however, for the distinction of his 
title and the fact that he generally lived in an important city 

1 For an illustration of provinces and bishoprics, see accompanying map of 
France showing the ecclesiastical divisions. The seats of the archbishops are 
indicated by © ; those of the bishops by 6 . 


History of Western Europe 

The impor- 
tance of the 

and often had vast political influence, the archbishop was not 
very much more powerful, as an officer of the Church, than the 
other bishops. 

There is perhaps no class of persons in mediaeval times 
whose position it is so necessary to understand as that of the 
bishops. They were regarded as the successors of the apostles, 
whose powers were held to be divinely transmitted to them. 
They represented the Church Universal in their respective 

The Costume of a Bishop, showing Miter and Crosier, 
manuscript of the twelfth century 

Duties of a 

dioceses, under the supreme headship of their "elder brother," 
the Bishop of Rome, the successor of the chief of the apostles. 
Their insignia of office, the miter and crosier, are familiar to 
every one. Each bishop had his especial church, which was 
called a cathedral, and usually surpassed the other churches 
of the diocese in size and beauty. 

Only a bishop could ordain new members of the clergy 
or degrade the old. He alone could consecrate churches or 

TJie MedicBval Church at its Height 207 

anoint kings. He alone could perform the sacrament of con- 
firmation, though as priest he might administer any of the other 
sacraments.^ Aside from his purely religious duties, he was 
the overseer of all the churchmen in his diocese, including the 
monks. ^ He held a court where a great variety of suits were 
tried. If he were a conscientious prelate, he traveled about 
his diocese visiting the parish churches and the monasteries 
to see if the priests did their duty and the monks behaved 
themselves properly. 

In addition to the oversight of his diocese, it was the bishop's The bishop' 
business to see to the lands and other possessions which duties, 
belonged to the bishopric. He had, moreover, to perform 
those governmental duties which the king, especially in Ger- 
many, had thrown upon him, and he was conspicuous among 
the monarch's counselors. Lastly, the bishop was usually a 
feudal lord, with the obligations that that implied. He might 
have vassals and subvassals, and often was himself a vassal, not 
only of the king but also of some neighboring lord. As one 
reads through the archives of a bishopric, it is hard to tell 
whether the bishop should be called, first and foremost, a 
churchman or a feudal lord. In short, the duties of the bishop 
were as manifold as those of the mediaeval Church itself. 

The reforms of Gregory VII had resulted in placing the Election of 
choice of the bishop in the hands of the cathedral chapter,^ 
that is, the body of clergy connected with the cathedral 
church. But this did not prevent the king from suggesting the 

1 See below, § 8i. 

2 Except those monasteries and orders whose members were especially 
exempted by the pope from the jurisdiction of the bishops. 

3 Those clergymen who enjoyed the revenue from the endowed offices con- 
nected with a cathedral church were called canons. The office of canon was 
an honorable one and much sought after, partly because the duties were light 
and could often be avoided altogether. A scholar like Petrarch might look to 
such an office as a means of support without dreaming of performing any 
of the religious services which the position implied. For an account of the 
relations between the chapter and the bishop, see Emerton, Mediceval Etirope, 
PP- 549-550- 


History of Westeni Europe 

The parish 
priest and 
his duties. 

candidate, since the chapter did not venture to proceed to an 
election without procuring a license from the king. Otherwise 
he might have refused to invest the person they chose with 
the lands and political prerogatives attached to the office. 

The lowest division of the Church was the parish. This 
had definite limits, although the parishioners might vary in 
number from a few families to a considerable village or an 

Canterbury Cathedral 

important district of a town. At the head of the parish was 
the parish priest, who conducted services in the parish church 
and absolved, baptized, married, and buried his parishioners. 
The priests were supposed to be supported by the lands 
belonging to the parish church and by the tithes. But both 
of these sources of income were often in the hands of laymen 
or of a neighboring monastery, while the priest received the 

Tlie Mediceval Church at its Height 209 

merest pittance, scarcely sufficient to keep soul and body 

The parish church was the center of village life and the 
priest was the natural guardian of the community. It was 
his business, for example, to see that no undesirable persons 
lurked in the village, — heretics, sorcerers, or lepers. It will 
be observed that the priest, besides attending to the morals 
of his flock, was expected to see to their bodily welfare by 
preventing the presence of those afflicted with the only infec- 
tious disease against which precautions were taken in the 
Middle Ages.^ 

81. The unexampled authority of the mediaeval Church is, other sources 

however, only partially explained by its wonderful organi- Church's 

zation. To understand the hold which it had upon mankind, 

we must consider the exalted position of the clergy and the 
teachings of the Church in regard to salvation, of which it » 

claimed to be the exclusive agent. 

The clergy were set apart from the laity in several ways. The exalted 
The higher orders — bishop, priest, deacon, and subdeacon the clergy. 
• — were required to remain unmarried, and in this way were 
freed from, the cares and interests of family life. The Church 
held, moreover, that the higher clergy, when they had been 
properly ordained, received through their ordination a myste- 
rious imprint, the " indelible character," so that they could 
never become simple laymen again, even if they ceased to 
perform their duties altogether or were cast out of the Church 
for crime. Above all, the clergy alone could administer the 
sacraments upon which the salvation of every individual soul 

1 It should be remembered that only a part of the priests were intrusted with the 
care of souls in a parish. There were many priests among the wandering monks, 
of whom something will be said presently. See below, § 91. There were also many 
chantry priests whose main function was saying masses for the dead in chapels 
and churches endowed with revenue or lands by those who in this way provided 
for the repose of their souls or those of their descendants. See below, p. 213. 


History of Western Europe 

Although the Church beUeved that all the sacraments were 
estabHshed by Christ, it was not until the middle of the twelfth 
century that they were clearly described. Peter Lombard 
(d. 1 164), a teacher of theology at Paris, prepared a manual 
of the doctrines of the Church as he found them in the 
Scriptures and in the writings of the church fathers, espe- 
cially Augustine. These Sentences (Latin, sente7itice^ opinions) 
of Peter Lombard were very influential, for they appeared at a 
time when there was a new interest in theology, particularly 
at Paris, where a great university was growing up.^ 

It was Peter Lombard who first distinctly formulated the doc- 
trine of the seven sacraments. His teachings did not claim, of 
course, to be more than an orderly statement and reconcilia- 
tion of the various opinions which he found in the Scriptures 
and the church fathers ; but his interpretations and defini- 
tions constituted a new basis for mediaeval theology. Before 
his time the word sacramentum (that is, something sacred, 
a mystery) was applied to a variety of sacred things, for 
example, baptism, the cross. Lent, holy water, etc. But Peter 
Lombard states that there are seven sacraments, to wit : bap- 
tism, confirmation, extreme unction, marriage, penance, ordi- 
nation, and the Lord's Supper. Through these sacraments 
all righteousness either has its beginning, or when begun is 
increased, or if lost is regained. They are essential to salva- 
tion, and no one can be saved except through them.^ 

By means of the sacraments the Church accompanied the 
faithful through life. By baptism all the sin due to Adam's 
fall was washed away ; through that door alone could a soul 
enter the spiritual life. With the holy oil and the balsam, 

1 For several centuries the Sentences were used as the text -book in all the divin- 
ity schools. Theologians established their reputations by writing commentaries 
upon them. One of Luther's first acts of revolt was to protest against giving 
the study of the Setitences preference over that of the Bible in the universities. 

2 All the sacraments, — e.g. orders and matrimony, — are not necessary to 
every one. Moreover, the sincere wish suffices if one is so situated that he can- 
not possibly actually receive the sacraments. 

TJie Medicsval Church at its Height 


typifying the fragrance of righteousness, which were rubbed 
upon the forehead of the boy or girl at confirmation by the 
bishop, the young were strengthened so that they might boldly 
confess the name of the Lord. If the believer fell perilously 
ill, the priest anointed him with oil in the name of the Lord 
and by this sacrament of extreme unction expelled all vestiges 
of former sin and refreshed the spirit of the dying. Through 
the priest alone might marriage be sanctified ; and when the 
bonds were once legally contracted they might never be 
sundered. If evil desire, which baptism lessened but did 
not remove, led the Christian into deadly sin, as it constantly 
did, the Church, through the sacrament of penance, reconciled 
him once more with God and saved him from the jaws of 
hell. For the priest, through the sacrament of ordination, 
received the most exalted prerogative of forgiving sins. He 
enjoyed, too, the awful power and privilege of performing the 
miracle of the Mass, — of offering up Christ anew for the 
remission of the sinner's guilt. 

82. The sacrament of penance is, with the Mass, of especial 
historical importance. When a bishop ordained a priest, he 
said to him : " Receive ye the Holy Ghost : whose soever sins 
ye forgive, they are forgiven them : whose soever sins ye retain, 
they are retained." In this way the priest was intrusted with 
the keys of the kingdom of heaven. There was no hope of sal- 
vation for one who had fallen into mortal sin unless he received 
— or at least desired and sought — the absolution of the priest. 
To one who scorned the priest's ministrations the most sincere 
and prayerful repentance could not by itself bring forgiveness in 
the eyes of the Church. Before the priest could utter the sol- 
emn " I absolve thee from thy sins," the sinner must have duly 
confessed his sins and have expressed his vehement detestation 
of them and his firm resolve never more to offend. It is clear 
that the priest could not pronounce judgment unless he had 
been told the nature of the case. Nor would he be justified in 





The Lord's 
Supper, or 
Holy Eucha- 

The sacra- 
ment of 


History of Western Europe 

Penance and 

Nature of 

The Mass. 


absolving an offender who was not truly sorry for what he had 
done. Confession and penitence were, therefore, necessary 
preHminaries to absolution.^ 

Absolution did not free the contrite sinner from all the 
results of his sin. It cleared the soul of the deadly guilt which 
would otherwise have been punished by everlasting suffering, 
but did not exempt the penitent from temporal penalties. 
These might be imposed by the priest in this world or suffered 
after death in the fires of purgatory, which cleansed the soul 
and prepared it for heaven. 

The punishment prescribed by the priest was called pena?ice. 
This took a great variety of forms. It might consist in fast- 
ing, repeating prayers, visiting holy places, or abstaining from 
one's ordinary amusements. A journey to the Holy Land was 
regarded as taking the place of all penance. Instead, however, 
of requiring the penitent actually to perform the fasts, pilgrim- 
ages, or other sacrifices imposed as penance by the priest, the 
Church early permitted him to change his penance into a con- 
tribution, to be applied to some pious enterprise, like building 
a church or bridge, or caring for the poor and sick. 

The priest not only forgave sin ; he was also empowered to 
perform the stupendous miracle of the Mass. The early 
Christians had celebrated the Lord's Supper or Holy Eucharist 
in various ways and entertained various conceptions of its 
nature and significance. Gradually the idea came to be uni- 
versally accepted that by the consecration of the bread and 
the wine the whole substance of the bread was converted into 
the substance of the body of Christ, and the whole substance 
of the wine into his blood. This change was termed transub- 
stantiatio?i. The Church believed, further, that in this sacra- 
ment Christ was offered up anew, as he had been on the cross. 

1 Confession was a very eurly practice in the Church. Innocent III and the 
fourth Lateran Council made it obhgatory by requiring the faithful to confess at 
least once a year, at Easter time. For sacraments, see Readings^ Chapter XVI. 

The Mediceval C/mrc/i at its Height 213 

as a sacrifice to God. This sacrifice might be performed for 

the sins of the absent as well as of the present, and for the 

dead as well as for the living. Moreover, Christ was to be 

worshiped under the form of the bread, or host (Latin, hostia^ 

sacrifice), with the highest form of adoration. The host was 

to be borne about in solemn procession when God was to be 

especially propitiated, as in the case of a famine or plague. 

This conception of the Mass as a sacrifice had some impor- consequences 

1 T 1 , 1 n ,. of conceiving 

tant practical consequences. It became the most exalted of the Mass as a 

the functions of the priest and the very center of the Church's 
services. Besides the public masses for the people, private 
ones were constantly celebrated for the benefit of individuals, 
especially of the dead. Foundations were created, the income 
of which went to support priests for the single purpose of say- 
ing daily masses for the repose of the soul of the donor or those 
of the members of his family. It was also a common practice to 
bestow gifts upon churches and monasteries on condition that 
annual or more frequent masses should be said for the giver. 

83. The sublime prerogatives of the Church, together with The dominant 
its unrivaled organization and vast wealth, combined to make the clergy 
its officers, the clergy, the most powerful social class of the sources of 
Middle Ages. They held the keys of heaven and without 
their aid no one could hope to enter in. By excommunication 
they could not only cast an offender out of the Church, but Excommuni- 
also forbid his fellow-men to associate with him, since he was interdict, 
accursed and consigned to Satan. By means of the i?iterdict 
they could suspend the consolations of rehgion in a whole city 
or country by closing the church doors and prohibiting all 
public services.^ 

The influence of the clergy was greatly enhanced by the Their mo- 

1 1 T- • nopoly of the 

fact that they alone were educated. For six or seven centu- advantages 

of education, 
ries after the overthrow of the Roman government in the West, 

1 See above, p. 183, and Translations and Reprints, Vol. IV, No. 4, for 
examples of the interdict and excommunication. 

214 History of Western Europe 

very few outside of the clergy ever dreamed of studying or 
even of learning to read and write. Even in the thirteenth 
century an offender who wished to prove that he belonged to 
the clergy, in order that he might be tried by a church court, 
had only to show that he could read a single line ; for it was 
assumed by the judges that no one unconnected with the 
Church could read at all.^ 

It was therefore inevitable that almost all the books should 
be written by priests and monks and that the clergy should 
become the ruling power in all intellectual, artistic, and literary 
matters, — the chief guardians and promoters of civilization. 
Moreover, the civil government was forced to rely upon church- 
men to write out the public documents and proclamations. 
The priests and monks held the pen for the king. Repre- 
sentatives of the clergy sat in the king's councils and acted 
as his ministers ; in fact, the conduct of the government 
largely devolved upon them.^ 
Offices in the The offices in the Church were open to all ranks of men, 
to all classes, and many of the popes themselves sprang from the hum- 
blest classes. The Church thus constantly recruited its ranks 
with fresh blood. No one held an office simply because his 
father had held it before him, as was the case in the civil 
Lea's de- The man who entered the service of the Church " was released 

the mediaeval from the distraction of family cares and the seduction of family 


ties. The Church was his country and his home and its inter- 
ests were his own. The moral, intellectual, and physical forces, 
which throughout the laity were divided between the claims of 
patriotism, the selfish struggle for advancement, the provision 
for wife and children, were in the Church consecrated to a 
common end, in the success of which all might hope to share, 

1 The privilege of being tried by churchmen, which all connected with the 
Church claimed, was called benefit of clergy. See Readings, Chapter XVI. 

2 The bishops still constitute an important element in the upper houses of 
parliament in several European countries. 

The MedicEval Church at its Height 2 1 5 

while all were assured of the necessities of existence, and were 
relieved of anxiety as to the future." The Church was thus 
" an army encamped on the soil of Christendom, with its out- 
posts everywhere, subject to the most efficient discipline, ani- 
mated with a common purpose, every soldier panoplied with 
inviolability and armed with the tremendous weapons which 
slew the soul " (Lea). 

General Reading. — Cutts, Parish Priests and their People (E. & 
J. B. Young, ^3.00). Prevost, V Eglise et les Campagnes au Moyen 
Age (Paris, J^i.50). 



The question 
of the char- 
acter of the 

The debt of 
Europe to 
the Church. 

84. It is natural to ask whether the commanders of the 
great army which made up the Church proved vahant leaders 
in the eternal warfare against evil. Did they, on the whole, 
resist the temptations which their almost limitless power and 
wealth constantly placed in their way? Did they use their 
vast resources to advance the cause of the Great Leader 
whose humble followers and servants they claimed to be? 
Or were they, on the contrary, selfish and corrupt, turning 
the teachings of the Church to their own advantage, and 
discrediting its doctrines in the eyes of the people by flagrant 
maladministration and personal wickedness ? 

No simple answer to this question is possible. One who 
realizes how completely the Church dominated every human 
interest and influenced every department of life in the Middle 
Ages must hesitate to attempt to balance the good and evil to 
be placed to its account. That the Church conferred incal- 
culable benefits upon western Europe, few will question. To 
say nothing of its chief mission, — the moral upHfting of man- 
kind through the Christian religion, — we have seen how, under 
its auspices, the barbarians were civilized and brought into the 
family of nations, how violence was checked by the " Truce of 
God," and how an educated class was maintained during the 
centuries when few laymen could either read or write. These 
are only the more obvious of its achievements ; the solace and 
protection which it afforded to the weak, the wretched, and 
the heart-sore, no one can assume to estimate. 


Heresy and the Friars 217 

On the other hand, no one can read the sources of our Thecorrup- 
knowledge of the history of the Church without perceiving clergy, 
that there were always bad clergymen who abused their 
high prerogatives. Many bishops and priests were no more 
worthy to be intrusted with their extensive powers than the 
unscrupulous office-seekers to whom high stations in our 
modern governments sometimes fall. 

Yet as we read the fiery denunciations of the clergy's evil Tendency to 

practices, which may be found in the records of nearly every the evil in 

^ , , . . . , , the Church, 

age, we must not forget that the critic is always prone to take 

the good for granted and to dwell upon the evil. This is 

particularly true in dealing with a great religious institution, 

where corruption is especially shocking. One wicked bishop, 

or one form of oppression or immorality among the clergy, 

made a far deeper impression than the humble virtues of a 

hundred dutiful and God-fearing priests. If, however, we 

make all due allowance for the good which escaped the writers 

of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, it must be admitted by 

all who read their testimony that they give us a gloomy picture 

of the life of many prelates, priests, and monks, and of the 

startling variety of abuses which developed in the Church. 

Gregory VII imagined that the reason for the existence of Temptations 

bad clergymen was that the kings and feudal lords forced their among the 

favorites into the offices of the Church. The root of the diffi- 
culty lay, however, in the wealth and power of the Church 
itself. It would have needed saints always to exercise right- 
eously the tremendous powers which the clergy had acquired, 
and to resist the temptations to which they were subjected. 
When we consider the position of a rich prelate, it is not sur- 
prising that corruption abounded. The offices of the Church 
offered the same possibiHties of money-making that civil 
offices, especially those in the great American cities, offer to 
the mere schemer to-day. The descriptions of some of the 
churchmen of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries remind 



History of Western Europe 

The chief 
forms ot 
corruption in 
the Church. 


The worldly 
and immoral 
lives of many 
bishops and 

Corruption in 
the ecclesias- 
tical courts. 

US far more of the professional politician than of a modern 
clergyman, whether Catholic or Protestant. 

85. At least a brief description of the more notorious forms 
of corruption among the clergy will be necessary to an under- 
standing of the various heresies or revolts against the Church. 
These began seriously to threaten its power in the twelfth 
century and culminated in the successful Protestant revolt of 
the sixteenth. The vices of the clergy serve to account also 
for the appearance of the begging monks, the Franciscans and 
Dominicans, and to explain the need of the great reform which 
they undertook in the thirteenth century. 

In the first place, there was simony, a disease so deep- 
seated and persistent that Innocent III declared it incurable. 
This has already been described in an earlier chapter. Even 
boys were made bishops and abbots through the influence of 
their friends and relatives. Wealthy bishoprics and monas- 
teries were considered by feudal lords an admirable means 
of support for their younger sons, since the eldest born 
usually inherited the fief. The life led by bishops and abbots 
was often merely that of a feudal prince. If a prelate had a 
taste for fighting, he organized military expeditions for con- 
quest or to satisfy a grudge against a neighbor, exactly as if 
he belonged to the bellicose laity of the period. 

Besides simony and the scandalous lives of many of the clergy, 
there were other evils which brought the Church into disrepute. 
While the popes themselves, in the twelfth and thirteenth cen- 
turies, were usually excellent men and sometimes distinguished 
statesmen, who honestly endeavored to exalt the vast institution 
over which they presided, their officials, who tried the innumer- 
able cases which were brought to the papal court, had a repu- 
tation for grave corruption.^ It was generally beHeved that the 
decision was always in favor of him who could pay most and 

1 For a satire of the thirteenth century on the papal court, see Emerton, 
Mediceval Eiiro/>e, p. 475. 

Heresy and the Friars 219 

that the poor received scant attention. The bishops' courts 
were notorious for their oppression, since a considerable por- 
tion of the bishop's income, hke that of the feudal lord, came 
from the fines imposed upon those condemned by his officials. 
The same person was sometimes summoned to different courts 
at the same time and then fined for neglecting to appear at 
one or the other. 

As for the parish priests, they appear often to have followed The parish 

,. . ' / , . . ^, ^ priests often 

the demoralizuiff example set by their superiors. The acts of no better 

•1 . T , ; • . 1 , • than their 

church councils indicate that the priest sometimes turned his superiors. 

parsonage into a shop and sold wine or other commodities. 
He further increased his income, as we have seen, by demand- 
ing fees for merely doing his duty in baptizing, confessing, 
absolving, marrying, and burying his parishioners. 

The monks of the twelfth century, with some remarkable 
exceptions, did httle to supply the deficiencies of the secular 
clergy.^ Instead of instructing the people and setting before 
them an example of a pure and holy life, they enjoyed no 
better reputation than the bishops and priests. Efforts were 
made, however, by newly founded orders in the eleventh 
and twelfth centuries — like that of the Cistercians to which 
St. Bernard belonged — to reform the monks. 

The universal impression of selfishness and depravity which Corruption 

1 1 1, 1 • r, T ^"^ abuses 

the corrupt churchmen made upon all observers is reflected recognized 

and con- 
in innumerable writings of the time, — in the letters of the demned by 

^ ^ ^ ,., ^ ^ , . the better ele. 

popes, in the exhortations of holy men like St. Bernard, m mentinthe 

\ r . ., . , . . , r , , clergy itself . 

the acts of the councils, in the satmcal poems of the popular 

troubadours and the sprightly versifiers of the courts.^ All 

agree in denouncing the iniquity of the clergy, their greed, and 

their reckless disregard of their sacred duties. St. Bernard 

1 It must not be forgotten that the monks were regarded as belonging to the 
clergy. For the various new orders of monks and the conditions in the mon- 
asteries, see Munro, Mcdiceval History, Chapter XII, and Jessopp, Coming of 
the Friars, Chapter III, " Daily Life in a Mediaeval Monastery. " 

2 See Readings, Chapter XVII. 


History of Western Europe 

The lay 
critics of 
the Church. 


sadly asks, " Whom can you show me among the prelates who 
does not seek rather to empty the pockets of his flock than to 
subdue their vices? " 

86. The evils which the churchmen themselves so frankly 
admitted could not escape the notice and comment of laymen. 
But while the better element among the clergy vigorously 
urged a reform of the existing abuses, no churchman dreamed 
of denying the truth of the Church's doctrines or the efficacy 
of its ceremonies. Among the laity, however, certain popular 
leaders arose who declared that the Church was the syna- 
gogue of Satan ; that no one ought any longer to rely upon it 
for his salvation ; that all its elaborate ceremonies were worse 
than useless ; that its masses, holy water, and relics were mere 
money-getting devices of a depraved priesthood and helped 
no one to heaven. These bold rebels against the Church 
naturally found a hearing among those who felt that the minis- 
trations of a wicked priest could not possibly help a sinner, 
as well as among those who were exasperated by the tithes 
and other ecclesiastical dues. 

Those who questioned the teachings of the Church and pro- 
posed to cast off its authority were, according to the accepted 
view of the time, guilty of the supreme crime of heresy. To 
the orthodox believer nothing could exceed the guilt of one 
who committed treason against God by rejecting the religion 
which had been handed down in the Roman Church from 
the immediate followers of his Son. Moreover, doubt and 
unbelief were not merely sin, they were revolt against the most 
powerful social institution of the time, which, in spite of the 
depravity of some of its officials, continued to be venerated by 
people at large throughout western Europe. The extent and 
character of the heresies of the twelfth and thirteenth centuries 
and the efforts of the Church to suppress them by persuasion, 
by fire and sword, and by the stern court of the Inquisition, 
form a strange and terrible chapter in mediaeval history. 

Heresy and the Friars 221 

The heretics were of two sorts. One class merely abjured the Two classes 
practices and some of the doctrines of the Roman Catholic 
Church while they remained Christians and endeavored to 
imitate as nearly as possible the simple life of Christ and the 
apostles. On the other hand, there were popular leaders who 
taught that the Christian religion was false. They held that 
there were two principles in the universe, the good and the 
evil, which were forever fighting for the victory. They asserted 
that the Jehovah of the Old Testament was really the evil 
power, and that it was, therefore, the evil power whom the 
CathoHc Church worshiped. 

This latter heresy was a very old one, by which even The aim- 
St. Augustine had been fascinated in his early years. It was 
revived in Italy in the eleventh century and became very 
popular, especially in southern France, in the twelfth. Its 
adherents called themselves Cat/m?H (the pure), but we shall 
call them Albigefises, a name derived from the town of Albi 
in southern France, where they were very numerous.-^ 

Among those who continued to accept the Christian faith The waiden- 
but refused to obey the clergy on account of their wickedness, 
the most important sect was that of the Waldensians. These 
were followers of Peter Waldo of Lyons, who gave up all their 
property and lived a Hfe of apostolic poverty. They went 
about preaching the Gospel and expounding the Scriptures, 
which they translated into the language of the people. They 
made many converts, and before the end of the twelfth cen- 
tury there were great numbers of them scattered throughout 
western Europe. 

The Church did not wish to condemn the efforts of good 
and simple men to imitate as exactly as possible the life of 
Christ and the apostles. Nevertheless these laymen, who 
claimed the right to preach and hear confession, and who 
asserted that prayer was quite as efficacious when uttered in 

1 See Readings, Chapter XVII, for the beliefs of the Albigenses. 


History of Western Europe 

Beginning > 
the fight 

Heresy re- 
garded as 

bed or in a stable as in a church, seemed clearly to call in 
question the general belief in the Church as the exclusive 
agent of salvation, and seriously to threaten its influence 
among the people. 

Before the end of the twelfth century the secular rulers 
began to take notice of heresy. Henry II of England, in 1 166, 
ordered that no one should harbor heretics in England, and that 
any house in which they were received should be burned. 
The king of Aragon decreed (i 194) that any one who listened 
to the preaching of the Waldensians, or even gave them food, 
should suffer the penalties for treason and should have his 
property confiscated by the state. These are the beginnings 
of a series of pitiless decrees which even the most enlightened 
kings of the thirteenth century issued against all who should 
be convicted of belonging either to the Albigenses or the 
Waldensians. The Church and the civil government agreed that 
heretics were dangerous to the welfare of both, and that they 
were criminals deserving the terrible death of burning alive.^ 

It is very difficult for us who live in a tolerant age to 
understand the universal and deep-rooted horror of heresy 
which prevailed not only in the twelfth and thirteenth centu- 
ries, but also down at least to the eighteenth. Too much stress 
cannot be laid upon the fact that heresy was considered 
treason against an institution which practically all, both the 
learned and the unlearned, agreed was not only essential to 
salvation but was necessary also to order and civilization. Frank 
criticism of the evil lives of the clergy, not excluding the pope 
himself, was common enough. But this did not constitute 
heresy. One might believe that the pope and half the bishops 
were bad men, and yet in no way question the necessity for 
the Church's existence or the truth of every one of its dog- 
mas ; just as nowadays we might call particular rulers and 

1 Examples of these decrees are given in Translations and Reprints, 
VoL III, No. 6. 

Heresy aitd the Friars 223 

government officials fools or knaves, without being suspected 
of repudiating government altogether. The heretic was the 
anarchist of the Middle Ages. He did not simply denounce 
the immorality of the officers of the Church ; he claimed that 
the Church was worse than useless. He sought to lead people 
to throw off their allegiance to it and to disregard its laws and 
commands. The Church and the civil government conse- 
quently proceeded against him as against an enemy of society 
and order. Heresy was, moreover, a contagious disease, and 
spread rapidly and unobserved, so that to the rulers of the 
times even the harshest measures appeared justifiable in order 
to prevent its dissemination. 

87. There were several ways of opposing heresy. First, a Different 
reform of the character of the clergy and a suppression of the opposing 
abuses in the Church would have removed a great cause of 
that discontent to which the writers of the time attributed the 
rapid growth of heresy. The attempt of Innocent HI to internal 
improve the conditions in the Church by summoning a great 
council at Rome in 12 15 failed, however, and, according to 
his successor, matters grew worse rather than better. 

A second plan was to organize an expedition against the Extermina- 
rebels and annihilate them by the sword. This policy was sword, 
only possible if a large number of heretics could be found in 
a single district. In southern France there were many adher- 
ents of both the Albigenses and the Waldensians, especially 
in the county of Toulouse. At the beginning of the thirteenth 
century there was in this region an open contempt for the 
Church and a bold defense of heretical teachings even among 
the higher classes. 

Against the people of this flourishing land Innocent III Aibigensian 
preached a crusade in 1208. An army under Simon de Mont- 
fort ^ marched from northern France into the doomed region 

1 His son married an English lady, became a leader of the English barons, 
and was the first to summon the commons to Parliament. See above, pp. 146-147. 

224 History of Western Europe 

and, after one of the most atrocious and bloody wars upon 
record, suppressed the heresy by wholesale slaughter. At the 
same tmie the war checked the civiHzation and destroyed the 
prosperity of the most enlightened portion of France. 
The inqui- The third and most permanent defense against heresy was 

the establishment, under the headship of the pope, of a sys- 
tem of tribunals designed to ferret out secret cases of unbelief 
and bring the offenders to punishment. These courts of 
experts, who devoted their whole attention to the discovery 
and conviction of heresy, constituted the Holy Inquisition, 
which gradually took form after the Albigensian crusade. We 
cannot stop to describe these courts, which became especially 
notorious in Spain some two centuries after their establish- 
ment. The unfairness of the trials and the cruel treatment 
to which those suspected of heresy were subjected, through 
long imprisonment or torture — inflicted with the hope of 
forcing them to confess their crime or implicate others — 
have rendered the name of the Inquisition infamous. 

Without by any means attempting to defend the methods 
employed, it may be remarked that the inquisitors were often 
earnest and upright men whose feelings were not unlike those 
of a New England judge presiding at a witch trial in the seven- 
teenth century. The methods of procedure of the Inquisition 
were not more cruel than those used in the secular courts of 
the period. 

The assertion of the suspected person that he was not a 
heretic did not receive any attention, for it was assumed that 
he would naturally deny his guilt, as would any other criminal. 
A person's belief had, therefore, to be judged by outward acts. 
Consequently one might fall into the hands of the Inquisition 
by mere inadvertent conversation with a heretic, by some 
unintentional neglect to show due respect toward the Church 
rites, or by the maHcious testimony of one's neighbors. This 
is really the most dreadful aspect of the Inquisition and its 

Heresy and the Friars 225 

procedure. It put a premium on talebearing and resorted 

to most cruel means to convict those who earnestly denied 

that their beliefs were different from those of the Church. 

If the suspected person confessed his guilt and abjured his Fate of the 

heresy, he was forgiven and received back into the Church ; heretic 

but a penance of life imprisonment was imposed upon him as 

a fitting means of wiping away the unspeakable sin of which 

he had been guilty. If he remained impenitent, he was 

"relaxed to the secular arm " ^ ; that is to say, the Church, 

whose law forbade it to shed blood, handed over the convicted 

person to the civil power, which burned him alive without 

further trial. 

88. We may now turn to that far more cheerful and Founding of 

the mendi- 
effective method of meeting the opponents of the Church, cant orders. 

which may be said to have been discovered by St. Francis 
of Assisi. His teachings and the example of his beautiful life 
probably did far more to secure continued allegiance to the 
Church than all the hideous devices of the Inquisition. 

We have seen how the Waldensians tried to better the 
world by living simple lives and preaching the Gospel. Owing 
to the disfavor of the church authorities, who declared their 
teachings erroneous and dangerous, they were prevented from 
publicly carrying on their missionary work. Yet all conscien- 
tious men agreed with the Waldensians that the world was in 
a sad plight owing to the negligence and the misdeeds of the 
clergy. St. Francis and St. Dominic strove to meet the needs 
of their time by inventing a new kind of clergyman, the 
begging brother, or mendicant friar (Latin, f rater ^ brother). 
He was to do just what the bishops and parish priests ordi- 
narily failed to do, — namely, lead a holy life of self-sacrifice, 
defend the orthodox beliefs against the reproaches and attacks 
of the heretics, and awaken the people at large to a new 

1 For the form of relaxation and other documents relating to the Inquisition, 
see Translations and Re^rints^ Vol III, No. 6. 

226 History of Western Europe 

spiritual life. The founding of the mendicant orders is one 
of the most important and interesting events of the Middle 
St. Francis There is no more lovely and fascinating figure in all his- 

rtf Assisi 

1182-1226'. tory than St. Francis. He was born (probably in 1182) at 
Assisi, a little town in central Italy. He was the son of a 
well-to-do merchant, and during his early youth he lived a 
very gay life, spending his father's money freely. He read 
the French romances of the time and dreamed of imitating 
the brave knights whose adventures they described. Although 
his companions were wild and reckless, there was a delicacy 
and chivalry in Francis' own make-up which made him hate 
all things coarse and heartless. When later he voluntarily 
became a beggar, his ragged coat still covered a true poet and 
Francis for- The contrast between his own life of luxury and the sad state 

of luxury of the poor early afflicted him. When he was about twenty, 
inheritance after a long and serious illness which made a break in his gay 
a hermit. life and gave him time, to think, he suddenly lost his love for 
the old pleasures and began to consort with the destitute, above 
all with the lepers. Now Francis, being delicately organized 
and nurtured, especially loathed these miserable creatures, 
but he forced himself to kiss their hands, as if they were his 
friends, and to wash their sores. So he gained a great victory 
over himself, and that which seemed bitter to him became, 
as he says, '' sweet and easy." 

His father does not appear to have had any fondness what- 
ever for beggars, and the relations between him and his son 
grew more and more strained. When finally he threatened to 
disinherit the young man, Francis cheerfully agreed to sur- 
render all right to his inheritance. Stripping off his clothes 
and giving them back to his father, he accepted the worn-out 
garment of a gardener and became a homeless hermit, busying 
himself in repairing the dilapidated chapels near Assisi. 

Heresy and the Friars 22/ 

One day in February, 1209, as he was listening to Mass, He believes 
the priest, turning toward him by chance, read : "And as ye a direct 
go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. . . . Heaven. "^"^ 
Get you no gold, nor silver, nor brass in your purses, no wallet 
for your journey, neither two coats, nor shoes, nor staff; for 
the laborer is worthy of his food " (Matt. x. 7-10). This 
seemed to the expectant Francis the answer of Christ himself 
to his longings for guidance. Here was a complete programme 
laid out for him. He threw aside his stick, wallet, and shoes 
and resolved thereafter to lead, literally and absolutely, the life 
the apostles had led. 

He began to preach in a simple way, and before long a rich Francis 
fellow-townsman resolved to sell all and give to the poor, and prSch and 

to 3.ttr3.ot 

follow Francis' example. Others soon joined them, and these followers, 
joyous penitents, free of worldly burdens, caUing themselves 
"God's troubadours," went barefoot and moneyless about 
central Italy preaching the Gospel. Some of those they met 
"listened willingly, others scoffed, the greater number over- 
whelmed them with questions, ^ Whence come you ? Of what 
order are you ? ' and they, though sometimes it was wearisome 
to answer, said simply, ' We are penitents, natives of the city 
of Assisi.' " 

When, with a dozen followers, Francis appealed to the pope seeks and 
1 • ^ T TTT 1 • 1 -r^ Obtains the 

m 1 2 10 to approve his plan, Innocent III hesitated. He approval of 

did not beheve that any one could lead a life of absolute 
poverty. Then might not these ragged, ill-kempt vagabonds 
appear to condemn the Church by adopting a life so different 
from that of the rich and comfortable clergy ? Yet if he dis- 
approved the friars, he would seem to disapprove at the same 
time Christ's directions to his apostles. He finally decided 
to give his oral sanction and to authorize the brethren to 
continue their missions. They were to receive the tonsure, 
and to come under the spiritual authority of the Roman 

the pope. 


History of West em Eiiropt 

work under- 

Francis did 
not desire 
to found a 

draws up a 
new rule for 
the guidance 
of the friars. 

89. Seven years later, when Francis' followers had greatly 
increased, missionary work was begun on a large scale, and 
brethren were dispatched to Germany, Hungary, France, Spain, 
and even to Syria. It was not long before an English chroni- 
cler was telling with wonder of the arrival in his country of 
these barefoot men, in their patched gowns and with ropes 
about their waists, who, with Christian faith, took no thought 
for the morrow, believing that their Heavenly Father knew 
what things they had need of. 

The ill treatment which the friars received in their distant 
journeys led them to appeal to the pope for a letter which 
should request the faithful everywhere to treat them kindly, 
since they were good Catholics. This was the beginning of 
numberless privileges from the pope. It grieved Francis, how- 
ever, to see his little band of companions converted into a great 
and powerful order. He foresaw that they would soon cease 
to lead their simple, holy Hfe, and would become ambitious 
and perhaps rich. '' I, little Brother Francis," he writes, 
"desire to follow the life and the poverty of Jesus Christ, 
persevering therein until the end ; and I beg you all and 
exhort you to persevere always in this most holy life of pov- 
erty, and take good care never to depart from it upon the 
advice and teachings of anyone whomsoever." 

Francis sorrowfully undertook to draw up a new and more 
elaborate constitution to take the place of the few Gospel 
passages which he had originally brought together as a guide. 
After many modifications, to suit the ideas of the pope and 
the cardinals, the Franciscan Rule was solemnly ratified 
(1228) by Honorius III. It provides that "The brothers 
shall appropriate nothing to themselves, neither a house, nor a 
place, nor anything ; but as pilgrims and strangers in this world, 
in poverty and humility serving God, they shall confidently 
seek alms. Nor need they be ashamed, for the Lord made 
Himself poor for us in this world." ' Yet the friars are to 

Heresy and tJie Friars 229 

work if they are able and if their charitable and religious 
duties leave them time to do so. They may be paid for this 
labor in necessities for themselves or their brethren, but never 
may they receive coin or money. Those may wear shoes who 
cannot get along without them. They may repair their gar- 
ments with sackcloth and other remnants. They must live in 
absolute obedience to their superior and may not, of course, 
marry nor may they leave the order.^ 

After the death of St. Francis (1226), many of the order, 
which now numbered several thousand members, wished to 
maintain the simple rule of absolute poverty. Others, includ- 
ing the new head of the order, believed that much good 
might be done with the wealth which people were anxious to 
give them. They argued that the individual friars might still 
remain absolutely possessionless, even if the order had beau- 
tiful churches and comfortable monasteries. A stately church 
was immediately constructed at Assisi to receive the remains 
of their humble founder, who in his Hfetime had chosen a 
deserted hovel for his home ; and a great chest was set up 
in the church to receive offerings. 

90. St. Dominic (b. 11 70), the founder of the other great St. Dominic, 
mendicant order, was not a simple layman like Francis. He 
was a churchman and took a regular course of instruction 
in theology for ten years in a Spanish university. He then 
(1208) accompanied his bishop to southern France on the eve 
of the Albigensian crusade and was deeply shocked to see the 
prevalence of heresy. His host at Toulouse happened to be an 
Albigensian, and Dominic spent the night in converting him. 
He then and there determined to devote his life to the extir- 
pation of heresy. The httle we know of him indicates that he 
was a man of resolute purpose and deep convictions, full of 
burning zeal for the Christian faith, yet kindly and cheerful, 
and winning in manner. 

1 The whole rule is translated by Henderson, Historical Doctanents, p. 344. 


History of Western Europe 

Founding of 
the Domini- 
can order. 

between the 
and the 
older orders. 

By 1 2 14 a few sympathetic spirits from various parts of 
Europe had joined Dominic, and they asked Innocent III to 
sanction their new order. The pope again hesitated, but is 
said to have dreamed a dream in which he saw the great 
Roman Church of the Lateran tottering and ready to fall had 
not Dominic supported it on*his shoulders. So he inferred that 
the new organization might sometime become a great aid to the 
papacy and gave it his approval. As soon as possible Dominic 
sent forth his followers, of whom there were but sixteen, to 
evangelize the world, just as the Franciscans were undertaking 
their first missionary journeys. By 1221 the Dominican order 
was thoroughly organized and had sixty monasteries scattered 
over western Europe. " Wandering on foot over the face of 
Europe, under burning suns or chilling blasts, rejecting alms 
in money but receiving thankfully whatever coarse food might 
be set before the wayfarer, enduring hunger in silent resigna- 
tion, taking no thought for the morrow, but busied eternally in 
the work of snatching souls from Satan and lifting men up 
from the sordid cares of daily life, of ministering to their 
infirmities and of bringing to their darkened souls a glimpse 
of heavenly light "(Lea), — in this way did the early Fran- 
ciscans and Dominicans win the love and veneration of the 

91. Unlike the Benedictine monks, each of the friars was 
under the command not only of the head of his particular mon- 
astery, but also of the " general " of the whole order. Like 
a soldier, he was liable to be sent by his commander upon any 
mission that the work of the order demanded. The friars 
indeed regarded themselves as soldiers of Christ. Instead 
of devoting themselves to a life of contemplation apart from 
the world, Hke the earlier monks, they were accustomed and 
required to mix with all classes of men. They must be ready 
to dare and suffer all in the interest of their work of saving not 
only themselves but their fellow-men. 

Heresy and tJie Friars 231 

The Dominicans were called the " Preaching Friars " and Contrast 
were carefully trained in theology in order the better to refute Dominicans 
the arguments of the heretics. The pope delegated to them Franciscans, 
especially the task of conducting the Inquisition. They early 
began to extend their influence over the universities, and the 
two most distinguished theologians and teachers of the thir- 
teenth century, Albertus Magnus and Thomas Aquinas, were 
Dominicans. Among the Franciscans, on the other hand, there 
was always a considerable party who were suspicious of learn- 
ing and who showed far more anxiety to remain absolutely 
poor than did the Dominicans. Yet as a whole the Francis- 
cans, like the Dominicans, accepted the wealth that came to 
them, and they, too, contributed distinguished scholars to the 

The pope quickly recognized the importance of these new importance 
orders. He granted them successive privileges which freed of the new 


them from all control of the bishops, and finally declared that 
they were to be bound only by their own rules. What was still 
more important, he gave them the right, if they were priests, 
to celebrate Mass everysvhere, to preach and to perform the 
ordinary functions of the parish priests, such as hearing con- 
fession, granting absolution, and conducting burials. The friars 
invaded every parish, and appear to have largely replaced the 
parish priests. The laity believed them to be holier than the 
secular clergy and therefore regarded their prayers and minis- 
trations as more efficient. Few towns were without a gray 
friars' (Franciscan) or a black friars' (Dominican) cloister ; few 
princes but had a Dominican or a Franciscan confessor. 

It is hardly necessary to say that the secular clergy took opposition of 
these encroachments very ill. They repeatedly appealed to clergy, 
the pope to abolish the orders, or at least to prevent them from 
enriching themselves at the expense of the parish priests. 
But they got Httle satisfaction. Once the pope quite frankly 
told a great deputation of cardinals, bishops, and minor clergy 

232 History of Western Europe 

that it was their own vain and worldly lives which made them 
hate the mendicant brothers, who spent the bequests they 
received from the dying for the honor of God, instead of 
wasting it in pleasure. 

The mendicant orders have counted among their numbers 
men of the greatest ability and distinction, — scholars like 
Thomas Aquinas, reformers like Savonarola, artists like Fra 
Angelico and Fra Bartolommeo,and scientists like Roger Bacon. 
In the busy world of the thirteenth century there was no agency 
more active for good than the friars. Yet their vagrant lives, 
free from the ordinary control of the Church, and the great 
wealth which was showered upon them, afforded many obvious 
temptations which they did not long withstand. Bonaventura, 
who was made head of the Franciscan order in 1257, admits 
the general dislike aroused by the greed, idleness, and vice of 
its degenerate members, as well as by their importunate beg- 
ging, which rendered the friar more troublesome to the way- 
farer than the robber. Nevertheless the friars were preferred 
to the ordinary priests by high and low alike ; it was they, 
rather than the secular clergy, who maintained and cultivated 
the religious life in both city and country. 

General Reading. — The opening chapter of Lea's monumental work, 
A History of the Inquisition of the Middle Ages (Harper Bros. & Co., 
3 vols., $10.00), gives a remarkable account of the mediaeval Church and 
the abuses which prevailed. The first volume also contains unexcelled 
chapters upon the origin of both the Franciscan and Dominican orders. 
For St. Francis, by far the best work is Sabatier's beautiful biography, 
St. Francis of Assisi (Charles Scribner's Sons, I2.50). The earliest and 
best source for Francis is The Mirror of Pejfectiott (Page, Boston, 
75 cents), by Brother Leo, which shows the love and admiration in which 
" Little Brother Francis" was held by one of his companions. See also 
Jessopp, The Coming of the Friars, and Other Historic Essays (G. P. 
Putnam's Sons, $1.25), Chapter I. 



92. Since the development of the rather new science of 
political economy, historical writers have become much inter- 
ested in the condition and habits of the farmer, tradesman, 
and artisan in the Middle Ages. Unfortunately no amount of 
research is likely to make our knowledge very clear or certain 
regarding the condition of the people at large during the five 
or six centuries following the barbarian invasions. It rarely 
occurred to a mediaeval chronicler to describe the familiar 
things about him, such as the way in which the peasant lived 
and tilled his land. Only the conspicuous personages and the 
startling events caught his attention. Nevertheless enough is 
known of the mediaeval manor and town to make them very 
important subjects for the student of general history. 

There was little town life in western Europe before the 
twelfth century. The Roman towns were decreasing in popu- 
lation before the German inroads. The confusion which fol- 
lowed the invasions hastened their decline, and a great number 
of them disappeared altogether. Those which survived and 
such new towns as sprang up were, to judge from the chroni- 
cles, of very Httle importance during the early Middle Ages. 
We may assume, therefore, that during the long period 
from Theodoric to Frederick Barbarossa by far the greater 
part of the population of England, Germany, and northern 
and central France were living in the country, on the great 
estates belonging to the feudal lords, abbots, and bishops.^ 

1 In Italy and southern France town life was doubtless more general. 

Little known 
of the life of 
the people in 
the Middle 

tance of 
town life in 
the early- 
Middle Ages. 


History of Western Europe 

The manor, 
or vill. 

The obliga- 
tions of the 

These mediaeval estates were called vills, or manors, and 
closely resembled the Roman villas described in an earlier 
chapter. A portion of the estate was reserved by the lord 
for his own use ; the rest of it was divided up among the 
peasants,^ usually in long strips, of which each peasant had 
several scattered about the manor. The peasants were gener- 
ally serfs who did not own their fields, but could not, on the 
other hand, be deprived of them so long as they worked for 
the lord and paid him certain dues. They were attached to 
the land and went with it when it changed hands. The serfs 

^^ were required to till 

^ those fields which 

the lord reserved for 
himself and to gather 
in his crops. They 
might not marry 
without their lord's 
permission. Their 
wives and children 
rendered such assist- 
ance as was necessary 
in the manor house. 
In the women's buildings the daughters of the serfs engaged in 
spinning, weaving, sewing, baking, and brewing, thus producing 
clothes, food, and drink to be used by the whole community. 

We get our clearest ideas of the position of the serfs from 
the ancient descriptions of manors, which give an exact account 
of what each member of a particular community owed to the 
lord. For example, we find that the abbot of Peterborough 
held a manor upon which Hugh Miller and seventeen other 
serfs, mentioned by name, were required to work for him 
three days in each week during the whole year, except one 

An English Manor House, Thirteenth Century 

1 The peasants were the tillers of the soil. They were often called villains, a 
word derived from vill. 

The People in Country and Town 235 

week at Christmas, one at Easter, and one at Whitsuntide. 
Each serf was to give the lord abbot one bushel of wheat and 
eighteen sheaves of oats, three hens and one cock yearly, 
and five eggs at Easter, If he sold his horse for more than 
ten shillings, he was to give the said abbot four pence. Five 
other serfs, mentioned by name, held but half as much land 
' as Hugh and his companions, by paying and doing in all 
things half as much service. 

There were sometimes a few people on the manor who did 
not belong to the great body of cultivators. The limits of the 
manor and those of the parish often coincided ; in that case 
there would be a priest who had some scattered acres and 
whose standing was naturally somewhat superior to that of the 
people about him. Then the miller, who ground the flour and 
paid a substantial rent to the lord, was generally somewhat 
better off than his neighbors, and the same may be said of 
the blacksmith. 

One of the most remarkable characteristics of the manor The manor 
was its independence of the rest of the world. It produced ofth^eout" 
nearly everything that its members needed and might almost 
have continued to exist indefinitely without communication 
with those who lived beyond its bounds. Little or no money 
was necessary, for the peasants paid what was due to the lord 
in the form of labor and farm products. They also rendered 
the needful help to one another and found httle occasion for 
buying and selling. 

There was almost no opportunity to better one's condition, Themonot- 

and life, in the greater part of the hamlets, must have gone on misery of the 
. . . . peasants' 

for generation after generation m a weary routine. The life lives. 

was not merely monotonous, it was miserable. The food was 

coarse and there was Httle variety, as the peasants did not even 

take pains to raise fresh vegetables. The houses usually had 

but one room. This was ill-lighted by a single little window 

and had no chimney. 


History of Western Europe 

The manor 

The serf an 
farmer who 
could only 
exist when 
there w^as 
plenty of 

Barter re- 
placed by 

Yet the very dependence upon one another can hardly have 
failed to produce a certain spirit of brotherhood and mutual 
assistance in the community. It was not only separated from 
the outside world, but its members were brought together con- 
stantly by their intermingled fields, their attendance at one 
church, and their responsibility to one proprietor. The men 
were all expected to be present at the ''court " which was held 
in each manor, where the business of the manor was transacted 
under the supervision of a representative of the lord. Here, 
for instance, disputes were settled, fines imposed for the viola- 
tion of the customs of the manor, and redistributions of the 
strips of land took place. 

■ The serf was ordinarily a bad farmer and workman. He 
cultivated the soil in a very crude manner, and his crops were 
accordingly scanty and inferior. Obviously serfdom could exist 
only as long as land was plentiful. But in the twelfth and thir- 
teenth century western FAirope appears to have been gaining 
steadily in population. Serfdom would, therefore, naturally 
tend to disappear when the population so increased that the 
carelessly cultivated fields no longer supplied the food neces- 
sary for the growing numbers. 

The increased use of money in the twelfth and thirteenth cen- 
turies, which came with the awakening trade and industry, also 
tended to break up the manor. The old habit of bartering one 
thing for another without the intervention of money began to 
disappear. As time went on, neither the lord nor the serf was 
satisfied with the ancient primitive arrangements, which had 
answered well enough in the time of Charlemagne. The serfs, 
on the one hand, began to obtain money by the sale of their 
products in the markets of neighboring towns. They soon 
found it more profitable to pay the lord a certain sum instead of 
working for him, for they could then turn their whole attention 
to their own farms. The proprietors, on the other hand, found 
it to their advantage to accept money in place of the services 

TJie People in Country and Town 237 

of their tenants. With this money the landlord could hire 
laborers to cultivate his fields and could buy the luxuries 
which were brought to his notice as commerce increased. 
So it came about that the lords gradually renounced their 
control over the peasants, and the serf was no longer easily 
distinguishable from the freeman who paid a regular rent for 
his land.^ A serf might also gain his liberty by fleeing to a 
town. If he remained undiscovered, or was unclaimed by his 
lord, for a year and a day, he became a freeman. 

The slow extinction of serfdom in western Europe appears Disappear- 
to have begun as early as the twelfth century. A very general serfdom, 
emancipation had taken place in France by the end of the thir- 
teenth century (and in England somewhat later), though there 
were still some serfs in France when the revolution came in 
1789. Germany was far more backward in this respect. We 
find the peasants revolting against their hard lot in Luther's 
time, and it was not until the beginning of the nineteenth 
century that the serfs were freed in Prussia. 

93. It is hardly necessary to point out that the gradual importance 
reappearance of town life in western Europe is of the greatest 
interest to the student of history. The cities had been the 
centers of Greek and Roman civilization, and in our own time 
they dominate the Hfe, culture, and business enterprise of the 
world. Were they to disappear, our whole life, even in the coun- 
try, would necessarily undergo a profound change and tend to 
become primitive again like that of the age of Charlemagne. 

A great part of the mediaeval towns, of which we begin to Origin of the 
^ ^ , ^^ mediaeval 

have some scanty records about the year 1000, appear to have towns. 

originated on the manors of feudal lords or about a monastery 
or castle. The French name for town, ville^ is derived from 
vill, the name of the manor. The need of protection was prob- 
ably the usual reason for establishing a town with a wall about 
it, so that the neighboring country people might find safety in 
1 The manner in which serfs disappeared in England will be described later. 


History of Western Europe 

of a medi- 
aeval town. 




Increase of 
trade pro- 
motes the 
growth of 
the towns. 

it when attacked. The way in which a mediaeval town was 
built seems to justify this conclusion. It was generally crowded 
and compact compared with its more luxurious Roman prede- 
cessors. Aside from the market place there were few or no 
open spaces. There were no amphitheaters or public baths 
as in the Roman cities. The streets were often mere alleys 
over which the jutting stories of the high houses almost met. 
The high, thick wall that surrounded it prevented its extending 
easily and rapidly as our cities do nowadays. 

All towns outside of Italy were evidently small in the 
eleventh and twelfth centuries, and, like the manors on which 
they had grown up, they had little commerce as yet with the 
outside world. They produced almost all' that their inhabit- 
ants needed except the farm products which came from the 
neighboring country. There was likely to be little expansion 
so long as the town remained under the absolute control of 
the lord or monastery upon whose land it was situated. The 
townspeople were scarcely more than serfs, in spite of the fact 
that they lived within a wall and engaged in industry instead 
of farming. They had to pay irritating dues to their lord, just 
as if they had still formed a farming community. The emanci- 
pation of the townsmen from their lords and the establishment 
of a suitable form of government for their town were necessary 
preliminaries to the free development of town life. 

With the increase of trade came the longing for this free- 
dom. For when new and attractive commodities began to 
be brought from the East and the South, the people of the 
towns were encouraged to produce goods with the idea of 
exchanging them at some neighboring fair for the products 
of distant lands. But no sooner did the townsmen begin to 
engage in manufacturing and to enter into relations with the 
outside world, than they became conscious that they were 
greatly hampered by their half-servile condition and were sub- 
ject to exactions and restrictions which would render progress 

The People hi Country and Town 


impossible. Consequently during the twelfth century there were 
many insurrections of the towns against their lords and a gen- 
eral demand that the lords should grant the townsmen charters 
in which the rights of both parties should be definitely stated. 

In France the citizens organized themselves into what were The com- 
called communes y or unions for the purpose of gaining their ^^°®^" 

f-^ /- / ■ 


A Castle on the Rhine with a Village below it 

independence. This word commune appeared a new and 
detestable one to the lords, for, to their minds, it was merely 
another name for a company of serfs leagued against their 
masters. The nobles sometimes put down the insurrections of 
their townsmen with great cruelty. On the other hand, the 
lords often realized that they would increase the prosperity of 


History of Western Europe 


revealed in 
the charters. 

their towns by granting them freedom from arbitrary taxation 
and the right to govern themselves. In England the towns 
gained their privileges more- gradually by purchasing them 
from the lords. 

The town charters were written contracts between the lord 
and the commune or the guild of merchants of a town. The 
charter served at once as the certificate of birth of the town 
and as its constitution. It contained a promise on the part 
of the lord or king to recognize the existence of the guild of 
merchants. It limited the rights of the lord in calling the 
townsmen before his court and fining them, and enumerated 
the taxes which he might exact from the townspeople. The 
old dues and services were either abolished or changed into 
money payments. 

King Henry II of England promised the inhabitants of 
Wallingford that " wheresoever they shall go on their journeys 
as merchants through my whole land of England and Nor- 
mandy, Aquitaine and Anjou, 'by water and by strand, by 
wood and by land,' they shall be free from toll and passage 
fees and from all customs and exactions ; nor are they to be 
troubled in this respect by anyone under penalty of ten 
pounds." In the case of the town of Southampton he con- 
cedes " that my men of Hampton shall have and hold their 
guild and all their liberties and customs, by land and by sea, 
in as good, peaceable, just, free, quiet, and honorable a man- 
ner as they had the same most freely and quietly in the time 
of King Henry, my grandfather; and let no one upon this 
do them any injury or insult." 

The customs of the times, as revealed in the charters, seem 
to us very primitive. We find in the charter of the French 
town of St.-Omer, in 1 1 68, provisions like the following : He 
who shall commit a murder in the town shall not find an asylum 
anywhere within the walls. If he shall seek to escape punish- 
ment by flight, his buildings shall be torn down and his goods 

The People m Country and Town 241 

confiscated ; nor may he come back into the town unless he 
be first reconciled with the relations of his victim and pay- 
ten pounds, of which a half shall go to the lord's representa- 
tives and the other half to the commune, to be spent on its 
fortifications. He who strikes another one in the town shall 
pay one hundred sous ; he who pulls out the hair of another 
shall pay forty sous, etc. 

Many of the towns had, as a visible sign of their freedom, a 
belfry, a high building with a watchtower, where a guard was 
kept day and night in order that the bell might be rung in 

case of approaching danger. It contained an assembly hall, 
where the commune held its meetings, and a prison. In the 
fourteenth century the wonderful townhalls began to be erected, 
which, with the exception of the cathedrals and other churches, 
are usually the most remarkable buildings which the traveler 
sees to-day in the old commercial cities of Europe. 

The tradesmen in the mediaeval towns were at once artisans Craft guilds, 
and merchants ; they not only made, but offered for sale, the 
articles which they produced in their shops. In addition to 
the original guild of merchants which helped the towns to gain 
and preserve their privileges, many new corporations of trades- 
men grew up, the so-called era/t guilds. The oldest statutes 
of a guild in Paris are those of the candle makers, which go 
back to 106 1. The number of trades differed greatly in 

242 History of Western Europe 

different towns, but the guilds all had the same object, — to 
prevent every one from practicing a trade who had not been 
duly admitted to the corporation. 
The guild A young man had to spend several years in learning his trade. 

He lived in the house of a master workman, but received no 
remuneration. He then became a "journeyman" and could 
earn wages, although he could still work only for master work- 
men and not directly for the public. A simple trade might 
be learned in three years, but to become a goldsmith one must 
be an apprentice for ten years. The number of apprentices 
that a master workman might employ was strictly limited, in 
order that the journeymen might not become too numerous. 
The way in which each trade was to be practiced was carefully 
regulated, as well as the time that should be spent in work each 
day. The system of guilds discouraged enterprise but main- 
tained a uniform efficiency everywhere. Had it not been for 
these unions, the defenseless, isolated workmen, serfs as they 
had formerly been, would have found it impossible to secure 
freedom and municipal independence from the feudal lords 
who had formerly been their masters. 

Practical dis- 94. The chief reason for the growth of the towns and their 
appearance of . . . . , r 1 1 1 

commerce in increasing prosperity was a great development of trade through- 
Middle Ages, out western Europe. Commerce had pretty much disappeared 
with the decline of the Roman roads and the general disor- 
ganization produced by the barbarian invasions. There was 
no one in the Middle Ages to mend the ancient Roman roads. 
The great network of highways from Persia to Britain fell apart 
when independent nobles or poor local communities took the 
place of a world empire. All trade languished, for there was 
Httle demand for those articles of luxury which the Roman 
communities in the North had been accustomed to obtain from 
the South. There was little money and scarcely any notion 
of luxury, for the nobility lived a simple life in their dreary 
and rudely furnished castles. 

The People i7i Country and Town 


In Italy, however, trade does not seem to have altogether Italian cities 
^*i^ii 1 trade with 

ceased. Venice, Genoa, Amain, and other towns appear to have the Orient. 

developed a considerable Mediterranean commerce even before 
the Crusades. Their merchants, as we have seen, supplied 
the destitute crusaders 
with the material neces- 
sary for the conquest of 
Jerusalem. The passion 
for pilgrimages offered 
inducements to the Ital- 
ian merchants for expe- 
ditions to the Orient, 
whither they transported 
the pilgrims and returned 
with the products of the 
East. The Italian cities 
estabhshed trading sta- 
tions in the East and car- 
ried on a direct traffic 
with the caravans which 
brought to the shores 
of the Mediterranean the 
products of Arabia, Per- 
sia, India, and the Spice 
Islands. The southern 
French towns and Bar- 
celona entered also into 
commercial relations with 
the Mohammedans in 
northern Africa. 

This progress in the South could not but stir the lethargy commerce 
^ ° J stimulates 

of the rest of Europe. The new commerce encouraged a revo- industry. 

lution in industry. So long as the manor system prevailed 

and each man was occupied in producing only what he and 

Street in Frank£ort-on-the-Main 


History of Western Europe 

The luxuries 
Ox the East 
into Europe. 

Some of the 

the Other members of his group needed, there was nothing to 
send abroad and nothing to exchange for luxuries. But when 
merchants began to come with tempting articles, the members 
of a community were encouraged to produce a surplus of goods 
above what they themselves needed, and to sell or exchange 
this surplus for commodities coming from a distance. Mer- 
chants and artisans gradually directed their energies toward 
the production of what others wished as well as what was 
needed by the little group to which they belonged. 

The romances of the twelfth century indicate that the West 
was astonished and delighted by the luxuries of the East, — the 
rich fabrics. Oriental carpets, precious stones, perfumes, drugs 
(like camphor and laudanum), silks and porcelains from China, 
spices from India, and cotton from Egypt. Venice introduced 
the silk industry from the East and the manufacture of those 
glass articles which the traveler may still buy in the Venetian 
shops. The West learned how to make silk and velvet as well 
as light and gauzy cotton and linen fabrics. The eastern dyes 
were introduced, and Paris was soon imitating the tapestries of 
the Saracens. In exchange for those luxuries which they were 
unable to produce, the Flemish towns sent their woolen cloths 
to the East, and Italy its wines. But there was apparently 
always a considerable cash balance to be paid to the Oriental 
merchants, since the West could not produce enough to pay 
by exchange for all that it demanded from the Orient. 

The northern merchants dealt mainly with Venice and 
brought their wares across the Brenner Pass and down the 
Rhine, or sent them by sea to be exchanged in Flanders. 
By the thirteenth century important centers of trade had 
come into being, some of which are still among the great com- 
mercial towns of the world. Hamburg, Liibeck, and Bremen 
carried on active trade with the countries on the Baltic and 
with England. Augsburg and Nuremberg, in the south of 
Germany, became important on account of their situation on 

The People in Country and Town 245 

the line of trade between Italy and the North. Bruges and 
Ghent sent their manufactures everywhere. English com- 
merce was relatively unimportant as yet compared with that 
of the great ports of the Mediterranean. 

95. A word must be said of the numerous and almost Restrictions 
incredible obstacles in the way of commerce in the Middle 
Ages. There was very little of that freedom which we now 
regard as essential to successful business. Our wholesale 
dealers would have been considered an abomination in the 
Middle Ages. Those who bought up a quantity of a com- 
modity in order to sell it at a high rate were called by the 
ugly name oi forestallers. It was universally beheved that 
everything had a "just" price, which was merely enough to idea of a 
cover the cost of the materials used in its manufacture and 
remunerate the maker for the work he had put upon it. It was 
considered outrageous to sell a thing for more than the just 
price, no matter how anxious the purchaser might be to obtain 
it. Every manufacturer was required to keep a shop in which 
he offered at retail all that he made. Those who lived near a 
town were permitted to sell their products in the market place 
within the . walls on condition that they sold directly to the 
consumers. They might not dispose of their whole stock to 
one dealer, for fear that if he had all there was of a commodity 
he might raise the price above a just one. 

Akin to these prejudices against wholesale trade was that Payment of 

against interest. Money was believed to be a dead and sterile money 

thing, and no one had a right to demand any return for lend- 
ing it. Interest was wicked, since it was exacted by those 
who took advantage of the embarrassments of others. Usury, 
as the taking of even the most moderate and reasonable rate 
of interest was then called, was strenuously forbidden by the 
laws of the Church. We find church councils ordering that 
impenitent usurers should be refused Christian burial and have 
their wills annulled. So money-lending, necessary to all great 


History of Western Em-ope 

The Jews as 

The ' Lom- 
bards ' as 

Tolls, duties, 
and other 
to which 
were sub- 
jected on 

commercial and industrial undertakings, was left to the Jews, 
from whom Christian conduct was not expected. 

This ill-starred people played a most important part in the 
economic development of Europe, but they were terribly mal- 
treated by the Christians, who held them guilty of the supreme 
crime of putting Christ to death. The active persecution of the 
Jews did not, however, become common before the thirteenth 
century, when they first began to be required to wear a peculiar 
cap, or badge, which made them easily recognized and exposed 
them to constant insult. Later they were sometimes shut up 
in a particular quarter of the city, called the Jewry. Since 
they were excluded from the guilds, they not unnaturally turned 
to the business of money-lending, which no Christian might 
practice. Undoubtedly their occupation had much to do in 
causing their unpopularity. The kings permitted them to make 
loans, often at a most exorbitant rate ; Philip Augustus allowed 
them to exact forty-six per cent, but reserved the right to extort 
their gains from them when the royal treasury was empty. In 
England the usual rate was a penny a pound for each week. 

In the thirteenth century the Italians — "Lombards" — 
began to go into a sort of banking business and greatly extended 
the employment of bills of exchange. They lent for nothing, 
but exacted damages for all delay in repayment. This appeared 
reasonable and right even to those who condemned ordi- 
nary interest. Capitalists, moreover, could contribute money 
towards an enterprise and share the profits as long as no inter- 
est was exacted. In these and other ways the obstacles offered 
by the prejudice against interest were much reduced, and large 
commercial companies came into existence, especially in Italy. 

96. Another serious disadvantage which the mediaeval mer- 
chant had to face was the payment of an infinite number of 
tolls and duties which were exacted by the lords through whose 
domains his way passed. Not only were duties exacted on the 
highways, bridges, and at the fords, but those barons who were 

The People in Country and Town 247 

so fortunate as to have castles on a navigable river blocked the 
stream in such a way that the merchant could not bring his ves- 
sel through without a payment for the privilege. The charges 
were usually small, but the way in which they were exacted 
and the repeated delays must have been a serious source of 
irritation and loss to the merchants. For example, a certain 
monastery lying between Paris and the sea required that those 
hastening to town with fresh fish should stop and let the 
monks pick out what they thought worth three pence, with 
little regard to the condition in which they left the goods. 
When a boat laden with wine passed up the Seine to Paris, the 
agent of the lord of Poissy could have three casks broached, 
and, after trying them all, he could take a measure from the 
one he liked best. At the markets all sorts of dues had to 
be paid, such, for example, as payments for using the lord's 
scales or his measuring rod. Besides this, the great variety 
of coinage which existed in feudal Europe caused infinite 
perplexity and delay. 

Commerce by sea had its own particular trials, by no Dangers 
means confined to the hazards of wind and wave, rock and ^ ^ ^' 
shoal. Pirates were numerous in the North Sea. They were Pirates, 
often organized and sometimes led by men of high rank, 
who appear to have regarded the business as no disgrace. 
Then there were the so-called strand laws, according to strand laws 
which a ship with its cargo became the property of the 
owner of the coast upon which it might be wrecked or 
driven ashore. Lighthouses and beacons were few and the 
coasts dangerous. Moreover, natural dangers were increased 
by false signals which wreckers used to lure ships to shore in 
order to plunder them. 

With a view to mitigating these manifold perils, the towns The Han- 
early began to form unions for mutual defense. The most League, 
famous of these was that of the German cities, called the 
Hanseatic League, Liibeck was always the leader, but among 


History of Western Europe 

the seventy towns which at one time and another were included 
in the confederation, we find Cologne, Brunswick, Dantzig, and 
other centers of great importance. The union purchased and 
controlled settlements in London, — the so-called Steelyard 
near London Bridge, — at Wisby, Bergen, and the far-off 
Novgorod in Russia. They managed to monopolize nearly 
the whole trade on the Baltic and North Sea, either through 
treaties or the influence that they were able to bring to bear. 

The League made war on the pirates and did much to reduce 
the dangers of traffic. Instead of dispatching separate and 
defenseless merchantmen, their ships sailed out in fleets under 
the protection of a man-of-war. On one occasion the League 
undertook a successful war against the king of Denmark, who 
had interfered with their interests. At another time it declared 
war on England and brought her to terms. For two hundred 
years before the discovery of America, the League played a 
great part in the commercial affairs of western Europe ; but it 
had begun to decline even before the discovery of new routes 
to the East and West Indies revolutionized trade. 

It should be observed that, during the thirteenth, four- 
teenth, and fifteenth centuries, trade was not carried on between 
nations, but by the various towns, like Venice, Luoeck, Ghent, 
Bruges, Cologne. A merchant did not act or trade as an inde- 
pendent individual but as a member of a particular merchant 
guild, and he enjoyed the protection of his town and of the 
treaties it arranged. If a merchant from a certain town failed 
to pay a debt, a fellow-townsman might be seized where the 
debt was due. At the period of which we have been speaking, 
an inhabitant of London was considered a foreigner or an alien 
in Bristol, just as was the merchant from Cologne or Antwerp. 
Only gradually did the towns merge into the nations to which 
their people belonged.-^ 

1 Reference, Munro, Medieeval History, Chapter XIV, where the subject of 
this chapter is treated in a somewhat different way. 

The People ifi Country and Town 249 

The increasing wealth of the merchants could not fail to The burghers, 
r . . . 1 . , , or commons, 

raise them to a position 01 importance in society which they become an 

had not hitherto enjoyed. Their prosperity enabled them to class. 

vie with the clergy in education and with the nobility in the 

luxury of their dwelHngs and surroundings. They began to give 

some attention to reading, and as early as the fourteenth century 

many of the books appear to have been written with a view of 

meeting their tastes and needs. Representatives of the towns 

were called into the councils of the king, who was obliged to 

take their advice along with their contributions to the support 

of the government. The rise of the burgher class alongside 

the older orders of the clergy and nobility, which had so long 

dominated the life of western Europe, is one of the most 

momentous changes of the thirteenth century. 

General Reading, — Gibbins, History of Commerce in Europe (The 
Macmillan Company, 90 cents), the best short account of the subject, 
with good maps of trade routes. Ingram, History of Slavery and 
Serfdom (Black, London, ^2.00), especially Chapters IV and V. Cun- 
ningham, Western Civilization in its Economic Aspects, Vol. II, 
Mediaeval and Modern Times (The Macmillan Company, ^1.25), is very 
suggestive. There are several excellent accounts of the economic situa- 
tion in England in the Middle Ages, which, in many respects, was similar 
to the conditions on the continent. Cheyney, Industrial and Social 
History of England (The Macmillan Company, ^1.40); Gibbins, The 
Industrial History of England (Methuen, ^i.oo), and a more elaborate 
treatise by the same writer, Industry in England (Methuen, ^3.00) ; 
Cunningham, Outlines of English Indtistrial History (The Macmillan 
Company, ;^i.5o), and much fuller by the same writer, Growth of Etiglish 
Industry and Commerce during the Middle Ages (The Macmillan Com- 
pany, ^4.00). All these give excellent accounts of the manor, the 
guilds, the fairs, etc. See also Jessopp, Coming of the Friars, second 
essay, " Village Life Six Hundred Years Ago." 



General use 
of Latin 
in the 
Middle Ages. 

97. The interest of the Middle Ages Hes by no means 
exclusively in the statesmanship of kings and emperors, their 
victories and defeats ; in the policy of popes and bishops ; or 
even in feudalism and Europe's escape from it. Important as 
all these are, we should have but a very imperfect idea of the 
period which we have been studying if we left it without con- 
sidering the intellectual life and the art of the time, the books 
that were written, the universities that were founded, and the 
cathedrals that were built. 

To begin with, the Middle Ages differed from our own 
time in the very general use then made of Latin, both in 
writing and speaking. In the thirteenth century, and long 
after, all books that made any claim to learning were written 
in Latin ; ^ the professors in the universities lectured in Latin, 
friends wrote to one another in Latin, and state papers, 
treaties, and legal documents were drawn up in the same lan- 
guage. The ability of every educated person to make use of 
Latin, as well as of his native tongue, was a great advantage at a 
time when there were many obstacles to intercourse among the 
various nations. It helps to explain, for example, the remark- 
able way in which the pope kept in touch with all the clergy- 
men of western Christendom, and the ease with which students, 
friars, and merchants could wander from one country to another. 
There is no more interesting or important revolution than that 

1 In Germany the books published annually in the German language did not 
exceed those in Latin until after 1680. 


TJie CultiLve of the Middle Ages 251 

by which the language of the people in the various European 
countries gradually pushed aside the ancient tongue and took 
its place, so that even scholars scarcely ever think now of 
writing books in Latin. 

In order to understand how it came about that two lan- 
guages, the Latin and the native speech, were both commonly 
used in all the countries of western Europe all through the 
Middle Ages, we must glance at the origin of the modem 
languages. These all fall into two quite distinct groups, the 
Germanic and the Romance. 

Those German peoples who had continued to live outside of The Ger- 

1 T^ „ . ,,.,.. , , manic lan- 

the Roman Empire, or who, durmg the mvasions, had not set- guages 

T 1 r • 1 • • 1 1 1 1 1M 1 -I-. -I • derived from 

tied far enough withm its bounds to be led, like the Franks in the dialects 

Gaul, to adopt the tongue of those they had conquered, natu- German 
rally adhered to the language they had always used, namely, the 
particular Germanic dialect which their forefathers had spoken 
for untold generations. From the various languages spoken 
by the German barbarians, modern German, English, Dutch, 
Swedish, Norwegian, Danish, and Icelandic are derived. 

The second group of languages developed within the terri- The Romance 

tory which had formed a part of the Roman Empire, and derived from 

the spoken 
includes modern French, Italian, Spanish, and Portuguese. It Latin. 

has now been clearly proved, by a very minute study of the old 

forms of words, that these Romance languages were one and 

all derived from the spoken Latin, employed by the soldiers, 

merchants, and people at large. This differed considerably 

from the elaborate and elegant written Latin which was used, 

for example, by Cicero and Caesar. It was undoubtedly much 

simpler in its grammar and doubtless varied a good deal in 

different regions ; — a Gaul, for instance, could not pronounce 

the words like an Italian. Moreover, in conversation people 

did not always use the same words as those in the books. 

For example, a horse was commonly spoken of as caballus, 

whereas a writer would use the word equus \ it is from 


History of Westei'n Europe 

of the 


cabalhis that the word for horse is derived in Spanish, Italian, 
and French (cabaHo, cavallo, cheval). 

As time went on the spoken language diverged farther and 
farther from the written. Latin is a troublesome speech on 
account of its complicated inflections and grammatical rules, 
which can be mastered only after a great deal of study. The 
people of the Roman provinces and the incoming barbarians 
naturally paid very little attention to the niceties of syntax 
and found easy ways of saying what they wished.^ Yet several 
centuries elapsed after the German invasions before there was 
anything written in the language of conversation. So long as 
the uneducated could understand the correct Latin of the books 
when they heard it read or spoken, there was no necessity of 
writing anything in their familiar daily speech. But the gulf 
between the spoken and the written language had become so 
great by the time Charlemagne came to the throne, that he 
advised that sermons should be given thereafter in the language 
of the people, who, apparently, could no longer follow the Latin. 
The Strasburg oaths ^ are, however, about the first example 
which has come down to us of the speech which was growing 
into French. 

98. As for the Germanic languages, one at least was reduced 
to writing even before the break-up of the Empire. An 
eastern bishop, Ulfilas (d. 381), had undertaken to convert 
the Goths while they were still living north of the Danube 
before the battle of Adrianople. In order to carry on his 
work, Ulfilas translated a great part of the Bible into Gothic, 
using the Greek letters to represent the sounds. With the 
single exception of the Gothic, there is no example of writing 

1 Even the monks and others who wrote Latin in the Middle Ages were 
unable to follow strictly the rules of the language. Moreover, they introduced 
many new words to meet the new conditions and the needs of the time, such as 
imprisonare, imprison ; utlagare, to outlaw ; baptizare^ to baptize ; foresia, forest ; 
fetidton, fief, etc. 

2 See above, pp. 94-95. 

The Culture of tJie Middle Ages 253 

in any German language before Charlemagne's time. There 
is no doubt, however, that the Germans possessed an unwritten 
literature, which was passed down by word of mouth for several 
centuries before any of it was written out. Charlemagne 
caused certain ancient poems to be collected, which presumably 
celebrated the great deeds of the German heroes during the 
invasions. These invaluable specimens of ancient German are 
said to have been destroyed by the order of Louis the Pious, 
who was shocked by their paganism. The great German epic, 
the Song of the Niebelu7tgs^ was not reduced to writing until 
the end of the twelfth century, after it had been transmitted 
orally for many generations. 

The oldest form of English is commonly called Anglo-Saxon Ancient 

J . j-^ r 1 1 , , • J English, or 

and IS so different from the language that we use that, m order Anglo-Saxon 
to read it, it must be learned like a foreign language. We 
hear of an English poet, Caedmon, as early as Bede's time, 
a century before Charlemagne. A manuscript of an Anglo- 
Saxon epic, called Beowulf, has been preserved which belongs 
perhaps to the close of the eighth century. The interest 
which King Alfred displayed in the mother tongue has already 
been mentioned. This old form of our language prevailed 
until after the Norman Conquest ; the Anglo-Saxon Chro?iicle, 
which does not close until 1154, is written in pure Anglo- 
Saxon. Then changes may be noticed in the language as it 
appears in the books of the time, and decade by decade it 
approaches more nearly to that which we speak. Although 
the first public document in English (1256), which belongs to 
the reign of Henry III, is scarcely to be understood without 
study, a poem written in his son's time is tolerably intelligible.^ 
English literature was destined one day to arouse the admira- 
tion of the peoples across the Channel and exercise an important 

1 " Bytuene Mershe and Avoril 

When spray beginneth to springe, 
The little foul (bird) hath hire wyl 
On hyre lud (voice) to synge." 


History of Western Europe 

French and 




The Song 
of Roland. 

influence upon other literatures. In the Middle Ages, how- 
ever, French, not English, was the most important of the 
vernacular languages of western Europe. In France a vast 
Hterature was produced in the language of the people during 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries which profoundly affected 
the books written in Italy, Spain, Germany, and England. 

99. Two quite different languages had gradually developed 
in France from the spoken Latin of the Roiiian Empire. If a 
line were drawn on the map from La Rochelle, on the Atlantic, 
eastward to the Alps, crossing the Rhone a little below Lyons, 
it would give a general idea of the limits of the two tongues. 
To the north, French was spoken; to the south, in a region 
bounded by the Pyrenees and the Alps, Proven^al.^ 

Very little in the ancient French language written before the 
year 1 100 has been preserved. The West Franks undoubtedly 
began much earlier to sing of their heroes, of the great deeds 
of Clovis, Dagobert, and Charles Martel. These famous rulers 
were, however, completely overshadowed later by Charlemagne, 
who became the unrivaled hero of mediaeval poetry and romance. 
It was believed that he had reigned for a hundred and twenty- 
five years, and the most marvelous exploits were attributed to 
him and his knights. He was supposed, for instance, to have 
led a crusade to Jerusalem. Such themes as these — more 
legend than history — were woven into long epics, which were 
the first written literature of the Frankish people. These 
poems, combined with the stories of adventure, developed a 
spirit of patriotic enthusiasm among the French which made 
them regard *' fair France" as the especial care of Providence. 

It is Httle wonder that the best of these long poems came 
to be looked upon as the national epic of the French. This 

1 Of course there was no sharp line of demarcation between the people who 
used the one language and the other, nor was Provencal confined to southern 
France. The language of Catalonia, beyond the Pyrenees, was essentially the 
same as that of Provence. French was called langiie d''oil, and the southern 
language langue d^oc, each after the word used for " yes." 


The Cultti7'e of the Middle Ages 255 

is the Song of Roland, probably written just before the First 
Crusade. It tells the story of Charlemagne's retreat from 
Spain, during which Roland, one of his commanders, lost his 
life in a romantic encounter in the defiles of the Pyrenees. 

That death was on him he knew full well ; 
Down from his head to his heart it fell. 
On the grass beneath a pine tree's shade, 
With face, to earth, his form he laid. 
Beneath him placed he his horn and sword. 
And turned his face to the heathen horde. 
Thus hath he done the sooth to show, 
That Karl and his warriors all may know, 
That the gentle count a conqueror died.i 

In the latter part of the twelfth century the romances of King Romances of 
Arthur and his Knights of the Round Table begin to appear, and the 
These enjoyed great popularity in all western Europe for centu- th°^Round 
ries, and they are by no means forgotten yet. Arthur, of whose 
historical existence no one can be quite sure, was supposed to 
have been king of Britain shortly after the Saxons gained a foot- 
hold in the island. In other long poems of the time, Alexander 
the Great, Caesar, and other ancient worthies appear as heroes. 
The absolute disregard of historical facts and the tendency to 
represent the warriors of Troy and Rome as mediaeval knights, 
show the inabihty of the mediaeval mind to understand that 
the past could have been different from the present. All these 
romances are full of picturesque adventures and present a vivid 
picture of the valor and loyalty of the true knight, as well as 
of his ruthlessness and contempt for human Hfe.^ 

1 The Song of Roland is translated into spirited English verse by O'Hagan, 
London, iS8o. 

2 The reader will find a beautiful example of a French romance of the twelfth 
century in an English translation of Atccassin and Nicoleite (Mosher, Port- 
land, Me.). Mr. Steele gives charming stories of the twelfth and thirteentli 
centuries in Htion of Bordeaux, Renaud of Montaziban, and The Story of 
Alexander (Allen, London), Malory's Mort d'' Arthur, a collection of the 
stories of the Round Table made in the fifteenth century for English readers, 
is the best place to turn for these famous stories. 


History of Western Europe 

The fabliaux 
and the 


Besides the long and elaborate epics, like Roland, and the 
romances in verse and prose, there were numberless short stories 
in verse (\.\\q fabliaux), which usually dealt with the incidents 
of everyday life, especially with the comical ones. Then there 
were the fables, the most famous of which are the stories of 
Reynard the Fox, which were satires upon the customs of the 
time, particularly the weaknesses of the priests and monks. 

100. Turning now to southern France, the beautiful songs 
of the troubadours, which were the glory of the Provencal 
tongue, reveal a gay and poHshed society at the courts of the 
numerous feudal princes. The rulers not merely protected 
and encouraged the poets ; they aspired to be poets themselves 
and to enter the ranks of the troubadours, as the composers 
of these elegant verses were called. These songs were always 
sung to an accompaniment on some instrument, usually the 
lute. Those who merely sang them, without being them- 
selves poets, were called jongleurs. The troubadours and 
jongleurs traveled from court to court, not only in France, but 
north into Germany and south into Italy, carrying with them 
the southern French poetry and customs. We have few 
examples of Provencal before the year iioo, but from that 
time on, for two centuries, countless songs were written, 
and many of the troubadours enjoyed an international repu- 
tation. The terrible Albigensian crusade brought misery and 
death into the sprightly circles which had gathered about the 
count of Toulouse and others who had treated the heretics 
too leniently. But the literary critic traces signs of decline 
in the Provencal verse even before this disaster.^ 

For the student of history, the chief interest of the epics of 
northern France and the songs of the South lies in the insight 
that they give into the life and aspirations of this feudal 

1 An excellent idea of the spirit and character of the troubadours and of their 
songs may be got from Justin H. Smith, Troubadours at Home (G. P. Putnam's 
Sons, New York). See Readings, Chapter XIX. 

TJie Culture of the Middle Ages 257 

period. These are usually summed up in the term chivalry^ 
or knighthood, of which a word may properly be said here, 
since we should know little of it were it not for the litera- 
ture of which we have been speaking. The knights play the 
chief role in all the mediaeval romances ; and, as many of the 
troubadours belonged to the knightly class, they naturally have 
much to say of it in their songs. 

Chivalry was not a formal institution established at any 
particular moment. Like feudalism, with which it was closely 
connected, it had no founder, but appeared spontaneously 
throughout western Europe to meet the needs and desires of 
the period. We learn from Tacitus that even in his time the 
Germans considered the moment a solemn one when the 
young warrior was first invested with the arms of a soldier. 
" This was the sign that the youth had reached manhood ; this 
was his first honor." It is probably a survival of this feeling 
which we find in the idea of knighthood. When the youth 
of good family had been carefully trained to ride his horse, 
use his sword, and manage his hawk in the hunt, he was made 
a knight by a ceremony in which the Church took part, 
although the knighthood was actually conferred by an older 

The knight was a Christian soldier, and he and his fellows Nature of the 
were supposed to form, in a way, a separate order with high order, 
ideals of the conduct befitting their class. Knighthood was 
not, however, membership in an association with officers and a 
written constitution. It was an ideal, half-imaginary society, 
— a society to which even those who enjoyed the title of king 
or duke were proud to belong. One was not born a knight 
as he might be born a duke or count, and could become one 
only through the ceremony mentioned above. One might be 
a noble and still not belong to the knightly order, and, on the 
other hand, one baseborn might be raised to knighthood on 
account of some valorous deed. 


History of Western Europe 

The ideals of 
the knight. 

The German 

von der 

The knight must, in the first place, be a Christian and 
must obey and defend the Church on all occasions. He must 
respect all forms of weakness and defend the helpless wherever 
he might find them. He must fight the infidel ceaselessly, 
pitilessly, and never give way before the enemy. He must 
perform all his feudal duties, be faithful in all things to 
his lord, never lie or violate his plighted word. He must 
be generous and give freely and ungrudgingly to the needy. 
He must be faithful to his lady and be ready to defend her 
person and her honor at all costs. Everywhere he must be 
the champion of the right against injustice and oppression. 
In short, chivalry was the Christianized profession of arms. 

In the stories of King Arthur and his Knights of the Round 
Table there is a beautiful picture of the ideal knight. The dead 
Lancelot is addressed by one of his sorrowing companions as 
follows : " Thou wert the courtliest knight that ever bare shield, 
and thou wert the truest friend to thy lover that ever bestrode 
horse, and thou wert the truest lover of a sinful man [i.e., among 
sinful men] that ever loved woman, and thou wert the kindest 
man that ever struck with sword, and thou wert the goodliest 
person that ever came among the press of knights, and thou 
wert the meekest man and the gentlest that ever ate in hall 
among ladies, and thou wert the sternest knight to thy mortal 
foe that ever put spear in breast." 

The Germans also made their contribution to the literature 
of chivalry. The German poets of the thirteenth century are 
called minnesingers. Like the troubadours, whom they greatly 
admired, they usually sang of love (German, Mifine). The 
most famous of the minnesingers was Walther von der Vogel- 
weide (d. about 1228), whose songs are full of charm and of 
enthusiasm for his German fatherland. Wolfram von Eschen- 
bach (d. about 1225) in his story of Parsifal gives the long 
and sad adventures of a knight in search of the Holy Grail, — 
the sacred vessel which had held the blood of Christ. Only 

The Culture of the Middle Ages 259 

those perfectly pure in thought, word, and deed could hope to 

behold it. Parsifal failed to speak a word of sympathy to a Parsifal. 

suffering man and was forced to undergo a long atonement. 

At last he learned that only through pity and humility and 

faith in God could he hope to find the Grail. 

The chivalry depicted in the So?is: of Roland and the more Difference 
^ . . . between the 

serious poems of northern France is of a severe type, in earlier and 

later ideals 

which the service of the Church, especially against the infidel, of chivalry, 
and the obhgations to the feudal suzerain have the predomi- 
nant place. On the other hand, in the Arthurian legends, and, 
above all, in the songs of the troubadours, the ideal conduct 
of a poHshed and valorous gentleman, especially toward the 
lady of his choice, finds expression. The later romances of 
chivalry (in the thirteenth and following centuries) deal very 
largely with knighthood in the latter sense of the word. No 
one, indeed, any longer thought of fighting the infidel; for 
the Crusades were over and the knight was forced to seek 
adventures nearer home.^ 

loi. So long as all books had to be copied by hand, there 
were, of course, but few of them compared with modem times. 
The literature of which we have been speaking was not in gen- 
eral read, but was Hstened to, as it was sung or recited by those 
who made it their profession. Wherever the wandering jongleur 
appeared he was sure of a delighted audience for his songs and 

stories, both serious and hght. Those unfamiliar with Latin General 

° ignorance 

could, however, learn Httle of the past ; there were no trans- of the past. 

lations of the great classics of Greece and Rome, of Homer, 

Plato, Cicero, or Livy. All that they could know of ancient 

history was derived from the fantastic romances referred to 

above, which had for their theme the quite preposterous deeds 

ascribed to Alexander the Great, ^neas, and Caesar. As for 

their own history, the epics relating to the earUer course of events 

in France and the rest of Europe were hopelessly confused. 

1 Reference, Henderson, Short History of Germany, Vol. I, pp. 111-121. 


260 History of Western Europe 

The writers attributed a great part of the acts of the Frankish 
kings, from Clovis to Pippin, to Charlemagne. The first real 
history written in French is Villehardouin's account of the 
capture of Constantinople by the crusaders (in 1204), which 
he witnessed. 
Mediaeval What we should call scientific literature was practically 

wanting. It is true that there was a kind of encyclopedia 
in verse which gave a great deal of misinformation about 
things in general. Every one believed in strange animals 
like the unicorn, the dragon, and the phenix, and in still 
stranger habits of real animals. A single example will suf- 
fice to show what passed for zoology in the thirteenth 

"There is a little beast made like a lizard and such is its 
nature that it will extinguish fire should it fall into it. The 
beast is so cold and of such a quality that fire is not able to 
burn it, nor will trouble happen in the place where it shall be." 
This beast signifies the holy man who lives by faith, who " will 
never have hurt from fire nor will hell bum him. . . . This 
beast we name also by another name, — it is called salamander, 
as you find written, — it is accustomed to mount into apple- 
trees, poisons the apples, and in a well where it shall fall it 
will poison the water." 

It will be noticed that the habits of the animals were sup- 
posed to have some spiritual meaning and carry with them a 
lesson for mankind. It may be added that this and similar 
stories were centuries old. The most improbable things were 
repeated from generation to generation without its occurring 
to any one to inquire if there was any truth in them. Even 
the most learned men of the time beheved in astrology and 
in the miraculous virtues of herbs and gems. For instance, 
Albertus Magnus, one of the most distinguished scientists of 
the thirteenth century, agrees that a sapphire will drive away 
boils and that the diamond can be softened in the blood of a 

The Culture of the Middle Ages 261 

stag, which will work best if the stag has been fed on wine 
and parsley.^ 

102. It is not only in the literature of the Middle Ages that 
we find the thought and life of the people reflected, but in the 
art as well, for painters, sculptors, and builders were at work 
in every country of western Europe. 

The paintings were altogether different from those of to-day, illuminations 

and consisted chiefly of illustrations in the books, called illu- monks. 

initiations. Just as the books had all to be laboriously written 

out by hand, so each picture was painted on the parchment 

page with tiny brushes and usually in brilHant colors with a 

generous use of gold. And as the monks wrote out the books, 

so it was, in general, the monks who painted the pictures. The 

books that they adorned were chiefly those used in the church in religious 

services, especially the breviary, the psalter, and the book of 

hours. Naturally these pictures usually dealt with religious 

subjects and illustrated the lives of the saints or the events of 

biblical history. Virtue was encouraged by representations of 

the joys of heaven and also stimulated by spirited portrayals 

of the devil and his fiends, and of the sufferings of the lost. 

Secular works, too, were sometimes provided with pictures in secular 

. : books, 

drawn from a wide variety of subjects. We find in their pages 

such homely and familiar figures as the farmer with his plow, the 

butcher at his block, the glass blower at his furnace ; then, again, 

we are transported to an imaginary world, peopled with strange 

and uncouth beasts and adorned with fantastic architecture. 

The mediaeval love of symbols and of fixed rules for doing The artist 

governed by 
things is strikingly illustrated in these illuminations. Each fixed rules. 

color had its especial significance. There were certain estab- 
lished attitudes and ways of depicting various characters and 
emotions which were adhered to by generation after generation 

1 See Steele's Mediceval Lore for examples of the science of the Middle 
Ages. For the curious notions of the world and its inhabitants, see the 
Travels, attributed to Sir John Mandeville. The best edition is published by 
The Macmillan Company, 1900. See Readings, Chapter XIX. 


History of Western Europe 

of artists and left comparatively little opportunity for individual 
talent or lifelike presentation. On the other hand, these little 
pictures — for of course they were always small ^ — were often 
executed with exquisite care and skill and sometimes in the 
smaller details with great truth to nature. 

Beside the pictures of which we have been speaking, it was 
a common practice to adorn the books with gay illuminated 
initials or page borders, which were sometimes very beautiful 
in both design and color. In these rather more freedom 
was allowed to the caprice of the individual artist, and they 

were frequently enliv- 
J^^ ^ ened with very charm- 

ing and lifelike flowers, 
— birds, squirrels, and 

other small animals. 

The art of sculp- 
ture was more widely 
and successfully cul- 
tivated during the 
Middle Ages than 
painting. Mediaeval 
sculpture did not, how- 
ever, concern itself 

the dominant 
art of the 
Middle Ages. 

A Romanesque Church 

chiefly with the representation of the human figure, but with 
what we may call decorative carvi?ig ; it was almost wholly 
subservient to the dominant art of the Middle Ages, namely, 

It is in the great cathedrals and other churches scattered 
throughout England, France, Spain, Holland, Belgium, and Ger- 
many, that we find the noblest and most lasting achievements 
of mediaeval art, which all the resources of modern skill have 

1 The word nihiiatiire, which is often appUed to them, is derived from fninmm, 
i.e., vermiUon, which was one of the favorite colors. Later the word came to be 
applied to anything small. See the frontispiece for an example of an illuminated 
page from a book of hours. 

The Culture of the Middle Ages 


been unable to equal. Everybody belonged to the Church, but 
the Church, too, belonged to each individual. The building 
and beautifying of a new church was a matter of interest to 
the whole community, — to men of every rank. It gratified 
at once their religious sentiments, their local pride, and their 
artistic cravings. All the arts and crafts ministered to the con- 
struction and adorn- 
ment of the new edi- 
fice, and, in addition 
to its religious sig- 
nificance, it took the 
place of our modern 
art museum. 

Up to the begin- 
ning of the thirteenth 
century the churches 
were built in the 
Romanesque style.^ 
They were, gener- 
ally speaking, in the 
form of a cross, with a 
main aisle, and two 
side aisles which were 
both narrower and 
lower than the main 
aisle. The aisles were 
divided from each 

other by massive round pillars which supported the round The Roman- 
esque style, 
vaulting of the roof and were connected by round arches. The 

round-arched windows were usually small for the size of the 

building, so that the interior was not very light. The whole 

effect was one of massive simplicity. There was, however, 

1 So called because it was derived from the old Roman basilicas, or buildings 
in which the courts were held. 



Durham Cathedral (Romanesque) 


History of Western Europe 

of the Gothic 

The pointed 



especially in the later churches of this style, a profusion of 
carved ornament, usually in geometric designs. 

The pointed form of arch was used occasionally in windows 
during the eleventh and twelfth centuries. But about the 
beginning of the thirteenth century ^ it began to be employed 

much more extensively, and 
in an incredibly short time 
practically superseded the 
round arch and became the 
characteristic feature of a new 
style, called Gothic. The 
adoption of the pointed arch 
had very important results. 
It enabled the builder to 
make arches of the same 
height but various widths, 
and of varying height and the 
same width. A round arch 
of a given span can be only 
half as high as it is wide, but 
the pointed arch may have 
a great diversity of propor- 
tions. The development of 
the Gothic style was greatly 
foi-warded by the invention 
of the "flying buttress." 
By means of this graceful outside prop it became possible to 
lighten the masonry of the hitherto massive walls and pierce 
them with great windows which let a flood of light into the 
hitherto dark churches.^ 

The light from all these great windows might even have 
been too glaring had it not been for the wonderful stained 

1 In France as earlj' as the twelfth century. 

2 Notice flying buttresses shown in the picture of Canterbury cathedral, p. 208, 

Round and Pointed Arches 


The Culture of tJie Middle Ages 


glass set in exquisite stone tracery with which they were filled. 
The stained glass of the mediaeval cathedral, especially in 
France, where the glass workers brought their art to the greatest 
perfection, was one of its chief glories. By far the greater 
part of this old glass has of course been destroyed, but it 
is still so highly prized that every bit of it is now carefully 
preserved, for it has 

never since been / li^!-^ ^^ 

equaled. A window ^^^W^ 

set with odd bits of 
it pieced together 
like crazy patch- 
work is more beau- 
tiful, in its rich and 
jewel-like color- 
ing, than the finest 
modern work. 

As the Gothic 
style developed and 
the builders grew all 
the time more skill- 
ful and daring, the 
churches became 
marvels of lightness 
and delicacy of 
detail and finish, 
while still retaining 
their dignity and beauty of proportion. Sculptors enriched sculptured 
them with the most beautiful creations of their art. Mold- 
ings and capitals, pulpits, altars, and choir screens, the wooden 
seats for the clergy and choristers, are sometimes literally 
covered with carving representing graceful leaf and flower 
forms, familiar animals or grotesque monsters, biblical incidents 
or homely scenes from everyday life. In the cathedral of Wells, 

Flying Buttresses of Notre Dame, Paris 


Histoiy of Western Europe 

in England, one capital shows us among its vines and leaves 
a boy whose face is screwed up with pain from the thorn he 
is extracting from his foot ; another depicts a whole story of 
sin found out, thieves stealing grapes pursued by an angry 
farmer with a pitchfork. One characteristic of the mediaeval 
imagination is its fondness for the grotesque. It loved queer 

beasts, half eagle, half 
lion, hideous batlike 
creatures, monsters like 
nothing on land or sea. 
They lurk among the 
foliage on choir screens, 
leer at you from wall or 
column, or squat upon 
the gutters high on roof 
and steeple. 

A striking peculiar- 
ity of the Gothic struc- 
ture is the great number 
of statues of apostles, 
saints, and rulers which 
adorn the facades and 
especially the main 
portal of the churches. 
These figures are cut 
from the same kind 
of stone of which the 
building is made and appear to be almost a part of it. While, 
compared with later sculpture, they seem somewhat stiff and 
unlifelike, they harmonize wonderfully with the whole building, 
and the best of them are full of charm and dignity. 

So far we have spoken only of the church architecture, 
and that was by far the most important during the period 
with which we have been dealing. Later, in the fourteenth 

Window in the Cathedral of Sens, 


The CulUire of the Middle Ages 


century, many beautiful secular buildings were constructed in 
the Gothic style. The most striking and important of these 
were the guildhalls built by the rich merchant guilds, and the 
townhalls of some of the important cities. But the Gothic 
style has always been especially dedicated to, and seems pecul- 
iarly fitted for, ecclesiastical architecture. Its lofty aisles and 
open floor spaces, its soaring arches leading the eye toward 
heaven, and its glowing windows suggesting the glories of 
paradise, may well have 
fostered the ardent faith 
of the mediaeval Christian. 

We have already touched 
upon some of the charac- 
teristics of domestic archi- 
tecture in referring to the 
mediaeval castle. This was 
rather a stronghold than a ^ 
home, — strength and in- 
accessibility were its main 
requirements. The walls 
were many feet thick and 
the tiny windows, often 

hardly more than sUts in the massive walls, the stone floors, Themedi- 
the great bare halls warmed only by large fireplaces, suggest 
nothing of the comfort of a modern household. At the same 
time they imply a simplicity of taste and manners and a hardi- 
hood of body which we may well envy. 

103. On turning from the language and books of the peo- The schools 

pie and the art of the period to the occupations of the learned eleventh 

class, who carried on their studies and discussions in Latin, we 

naturally inquire where such persons obtained their education. 

During the long centuries which elapsed between the time 

when Justinian closed the government schools and the advent 

of Frederick Barbarossa, there appears to have been nothing 

Figures (gargoyles) on Notre 
Dame, Paris 


History of Wester7i Europe 

in western Europe, outside of Italy and Spain, corresponding 
to our universities and colleges. Some of the schools which 
the bishops and abbots had established in accordance with 
Charlemagne's commands were, it is true, maintained all 
through the dark and disorderly times which followed his 
death. But the little that we know of the instruction offered 
in them would indicate that it was very elementary, although 
there were sometimes noted men at their head. 

About the year 1 1 oo an ardent young man named Abelard 
started out from his home in Brittany to visit all the places 
where he might hope to receive instruction in logic and phi- 
losophy, in which, like all his learned contemporaries, he was 
especially interested. He reports that he found teachers in 
several of the French towns, particularly in Paris, who were 
attracting large numbers of students to hsten to their lectures 
upon logic, rhetoric, and theology. Abelard soon showed his 
superiority to his teachers by defeating them several times in 
debate. Before long he began lecturing on his own account, 
and such was his success that thousands of students flocked 
to hear him. 

He prepared a remarkable little text-book, called Yea and 
Nay, containing seemingly contradictory opinions of the 
church fathers upon particular questions. I'he student was 
left to reconcile the contradictions, if he could, by careful 
reasoning ; for Abelard held that a constant questioning was 
the only path to real knowledge. His free way of deaHng 
with the authorities upon which men based their religious 
beliefs seemed wicked to many of his contemporaries, espe- 
cially to St. Bernard, who made him a great deal of trouble. 
Nevertheless it soon became the fashion to discuss the various 
doctrines of Christianity with great freedom and to try to make 
a well-reasoned system of theology by following the rules of 
Aristotle's logic. It was just after Abelard's death (1142) that 
Peter Lombard published his Sentences, already described. 

The Culture of the Middle Ages 269 

Abelard did not found the University of Paris, as has some- 
times been supposed, but he did a great deal to make the dis- 
cussions of theological problems popular, and by his attractive 
method of teaching he greatly increased the number of those 
who wished to learn. The sad story of his life, which he 
wrote when he was worn out with the calamities that had 
overtaken him, is the best and almost the only account which 
exists of the remarkable interest in learning which explains 
the origin of the University of Paris.^ 

Before the end of the twelfth century the teachers had origin of the 
become so numerous in Paris that they formed a union, or of Paris! ^ 
guild, for the advancement of their interests. This union of 
professors was called by the usual name for corporations in the 
Middle Ages, universitas ; hence our word "university." The 
king and pope both favored the university and granted the 
teachers and students many of the privileges of the clergy, a 
class to which they were regarded as belonging, because learning 
had for so many centuries been confined to the clergy. 

About the time that we find the beginnings of a university or study of the 

• t ^ r r t^ • ... - , . Roman and 

guild of professors at Pans, a great mstitution of learnmg was canon law in 

growing up at Bologna. Here the chief attention was given, 

not to theology, as at Paris, but to the study of the law, both 

Roman and canon. Very early in the twelfth century a new 

interest in the Roman law became apparent in Italy, where 

the old jurisprudence of Rome had never been completely 

forgotten. Then, in 1142 or thereabouts, a monk, Gratian, Thez?e- 

published a great work in which he aimed to reconcile all Gratian. 

the conflicting legislation of the councils and popes and to 

provide a convenient text-book for the study of the church 

or canon law. Students then began to stream to Bologna 

in greater numbers than ever before. In order to protect 

themselves in a town where they were regarded as strangers, 

they organized themselves into associations, which became so 

1 See Readings^ Chapter XIX. 


History of Western Europe 

other uni- 

The academic 

methods of 

powerful that they were able to force the professors to obey 
the rules which they laid down. 

The University of Oxford was founded in the time of 
Henry II, probably by English students and masters who had 
become discontented at Paris for some reason. The Univer- 
sity of Cambridge, as well as numerous universities in France, 
Italy, and Spain, appeared in the thirteenth century. The 
German universities, which are still so famous, were established 
somewhat later, most of them in the latter half of the four- 
teenth and in the fifteenth centuries. The northern institu- 
tions generally took the great mother university on the Seine 
as their model, while those in southern Europe usually adopted 
the habits of Bologna. 

When, after some years of study, a student was examined 
by the professors, he was, if successful, admitted to the cor- 
poration of teachers and became a master himself. What we 
call a degree to-day was originally, in the mediaeval universi- 
ties, nothing more than the quahfication to teach. But in the 
thirteenth century many began to desire the honorable title of 
master or doctor (which is only the Latin word for teacher^ who 
did not care to become professors in our sense of the word.-^ 

The students in the mediaeval universities were of all ages, 
from thirteen to forty, and even older. There were no university 
buildings, and in Paris the lectures were given in the Latin quar- 
ter, in Straw Street, so called from the straw strewn on the floors 
of the hired rooms where the lecturer explained the text-book, 
with the students squatting on the floor before him. There 

1 The origin of the bachelor's degree, which comes at the end of our college 
course nowadays, may be explained as follows : The bachelor in the thirteenth 
century was a student wh» had passed part of his examinations in the course in 
" arts," as the college course was then called, and was permitted to teach certain 
elementary subjects before he became a full-fledged master. So the A.B. was 
inferior to the A.M. then as now. After finishing his college course and obtain- 
ing his A.M., the young teacher often became a student in one of the professional 
schools of law, theology, or medicine, and in time became a master in one of 
these sciences. The words master, doctor, and professor meant pretty much 
the same thing in the thirteenth century. 

The Culttive of t lie Middle Ages 271 

were no laboratories, for there was no experimentation. All 

that was required was a copy of the text-book, — Gratian's 

Decretum, the Sentences, a treatise of Aristotle, or a medical 

book. This the lecturer explained sentence by sentence, and 

the students listened and sometimes took notes. 

The fact that the masters and students were not bound to The univer- 

1 1 -1 T 1 1 r 1 r sities could 

any particular spot by buildings and apparatus left them free move freely 

to wander about. If they believed themselves ill-treated in town to 
one town they moved to another, greatly to the disgust of the 
tradespeople of the place which they deserted, who of course 
profited by the presence of the university. The universities of 
Oxford and of Leipsic, among others, were founded by pro- 
fessors and students who had deserted their former home. 

The course in arts, which corresponded to our college course Course of 


and led to the degree of Master of Arts, occupied six years at 
Paris. The studies were logic, various sciences, — physics, 
astronomy, etc., — studied in Aristotle's treatises, and some 
philosophy and ethics. There was no history, no Greek. 
Latin had to be learned in order to carry on the work at all, 
but little attention was given to the Roman classics. The 
new modern languages were considered entirely unworthy of 
the learned. It must of course be remembered that none 
of the books which we consider the great classics in English, 
French, Italian, or Spanish had as yet been written. 

104. The most striking peculiarity of the instruction in the Aristotle's 
mediaeval university was the supreme deference paid to Aristotle, become 
Most of the courses of lectures were devoted to the explana- the west, 
tion of some one of his numerous treatises, — his Physics, his 
Metaphysics, his various treatises on logic, his Ethics, his minor 
works upon the soul, heaven and earth, etc. Only his Logic 
had been known to Abelard, as all his other works had been 
forgotten. But early in the thirteenth century all his com- 
prehensive contributions to science reached the West, either 
from Constantinople or through the Arabs who had brought 


History of Western Europe 

for Aristotle. 


them to Spain. The Latin translations were bad and obscure, 
and the lecturer had enough to do to give some meaning to 
them, to explain what the Arab philosophers had said of them, 
and, finally, to reconcile them to the teachings of Christianity. 

Aristotle was, of course, a pagan. He was uncertain whether 
the soul continued to exist after death ; he had never heard 
of the Bible and knew nothing of the salvation of man through 
Christ. One would have supposed that he would have been 
promptly rejected with horror by those who never questioned 
the doctrines of Christianity. But the teachers of the thir- 
teenth century were fascinated by his logic and astonished at 
his learning. The great theologians of the time, Albertus 
Magnus (d. 1280) and Thomas Aquinas (d. 1274), did not 
hesitate to prepare elaborate commentaries upon all his works. 
He was called '' The Philosopher " ; and so fully were scholars 
convinced that it had pleased God to permit Aristotle to say 
the last word upon each and every branch of knowledge that 
they humbly accepted him, along with the Bible, the church 
fathers, and the canon and Roman law, as one of the unques- 
tioned authorities which together formed a complete guide for 
humanity in conduct and in every branch of science. 

The term scholasticism is commonly given to the philosophy, 
theology, and method of discussion of the mediaeval professors. 
To those who later outgrew the fondness for logic and the 
supreme respect for Aristotle, scholasticism, with its neglect 
of Greek and Roman literature, came to seem an arid and 
profitless plan of education. Yet if we turn over the pages 
of the wonderful works of Thomas Aquinas, we see that the 
scholastic philosopher might be a person of extraordinary 
insight and erudition, ready to recognize all the objections to 
his position, and able to express himself with great clearness 
and cogency.^ The training in logic, if it did not increase the 

1 An example of the scholastic method of reasoning of Thomas Aquinas may 
be found in Translatiotis and Reprints, Vol. Ill, No, 6. 

The Culture of the Middle Ages 273 

sum of human knowledge, accustomed the student to make 
careful distinctions and present his material in an orderly way. 

Even in the thirteenth century there were a few scholars Roger 
who criticised the habit of relying upon Aristotle for all knowl- attack on 
edge. The most distinguished fault-finder was Roger Bacon, ticism. 
an English Franciscan monk (d. about 1290), who declared 
that even if Aristotle were very wise he had only planted the 
tree of knowledge and that this had " not as yet put forth all 
its branches nor produced all its fruits." "If we could con- 
tinue to live for endless centuries we mortals could never hope to 
reach full and complete knowledge of all the things which are 
to be known. No one knows enough of nature completely to 
describe the peculiarities of a single fly and give the reason for 
its color and why it has just so many feet, no more and no 
less." Bacon held that truth could be reached a hundred 
thousand times better by experiments with real things than by 
poring over the bad Latin translations of Aristotle. " If I had 
my way," he declared, " I should burn all the books of Aris- 
totle, for the study of them can only lead to a loss of time, 
produce error and increase ignorance." 

So we find that even when scholasticism was most popular 
in the universities, there were keen-sighted scientists who 
recommended the modern scientific method of discovering 
truth. This does not consist in discussing, according to the 
rules of logic, what a Greek philosopher said hundreds of years 
ago, but in the patient observation of things about us. 

We have now traversed somewhat over one half of the long Review of the 

period of fifteen hundred years which separates Europe of between the 

to-day from the disintegrating Roman Empire of the fifth cen- the Roman 

rr., . , , , , , . , ,. 1 1 Empire in the 

tury. 1 he eight hundred years which he between the century west and the 

of Alaric, Attila, Leo the Great, and Clovis, and that of Inno- thirteenth 

cent III, St. Louis, and Edward I, witnessed momentous 
changes, quite as important as any that have occurred since. 


2 74 

History of Western Europe 

The ' dark 

The twelfth 
and thir- 
teenth centu- 
ries a period 
of rapid 

of national 

It is true that it seemed at first as if the barbarous Goths, 
Franks, Vandals, and Burgundians were bringing nothing but 
turmoil and distraction. Even the strong hand of Charlemagne 
curbed the unruly elements for only a moment ; then the dis- 
cord of his grandsons and the incursions of Northmen, Hun- 
garians, Slavs, and Saracens plunged western Europe once 
more into the same anarchy and ignorance through which it 
had passed in the seventh and eighth centuries. 

Two hundred years and more elapsed after Charlemagne's 
death before we can begin once more to note signs of progress. 
While we know little of the eleventh century, and while even 
its most distinguished writers are forgotten by all save the stu- 
dent of the period, it was undoubtedly a time of preparation 
for the brilliant twelfth century — for Abelard and St. Bernard, 
for the lawyers, poets, architects, and philosophers who seem 
to come suddenly upon the scene. 

The Middle Ages may therefore be divided into two fairly 
distinct and quite different periods. The centuries prior to 
the age of Gregory VII and of William the Conqueror may, 
on account of their disorder and ignorance, be properly called 
the " dark ages," although they beheld some important stages 
in the transformation of Europe. The later Middle Ages, on 
the contrary, were a time of rapid and unmistakable progress 
in almost every line of human endeavor. Indeed by the end 
of the thirteenth century a great part of those changes were 
well under way which serve to make modern Europe so differ- 
ent from the condition of western Europe under the Roman 
Empire. The most striking of these are the following. 

(i) A group of national states in which a distinct feeling of 
nationality was developing had taken the place of the Roman 
Empire, which made no allowance in its government for the 
differences between Italians, Gauls, Germans, and Britons. 
The makeshift feudal government which had grown up 

The Culture of the Middle Ages 275 

during the dark ages was yielding to the kingly power (except 
in Germany and Italy) and there was no hope of ever reunit- 
ing western Europe into a single empire. 

(2) The Church had, in a way, taken the place of the Roman The national 
Empire by holding the various peoples of western Europe to deprive the 
together under the headship of the pope and by assuming the governmental 
powers of government during the period when the feudal lords 

were too weak to secure order and justice. Organized like 
an absolute monarchy, the Church was in a certain sense far 
the most powerful state of the Middle Ages. But it attained 
the zenith of its political influence under Innocent III, 
at the opening of the thirteenth century ; before its close the 
national states had so grown in strength that it was clear 
that they would gradually reassume the powers of government 
temporarily exercised by the Church and confine the pope 
and clergy more and more to their strictly religious func- 

(3) A new social class had come into prominence alongside Appearanceof 
^ ^ . . the commons 

the clergy and the knightly aristocracy. The emancipation or third 

of the serfs, the founding of towns, and the growth of commerce 
made it possible for merchants and successful artisans to rise 
to importance and become influential through their wealth. 
From these beginnings the great intelligent and educated 
public of modern times has sprung. 

(4) The various modern languages began to be used in Books begin 

^^^ & & & .to be written 

writing books. For five or six hundred years after the inva- in the lan- 

° I • 1 guage of the 

sions of the Germans, Latin was used by all writers, but in the people. 

eleventh and following centuries the language of the people 
began to replace the ancient tongue. This enabled the lay- 
men who had not mastered the intricacies of the old Roman 
speech to enjoy the stories and poems which were being com- 
posed in French, Proven9al, German, EngHsh, and Spanish, 
and, somewhat later, in Italian. 

276 History of Western Europe 

The clergy Although the clergy still directed education, laymen were 

monopoly of beginning to write books as well as to read them, and gradually 
earning. ^^ churchmen ceased to enjoy the monopoly of learning 

which they had possessed during the early Middle Ages, 
study of law, (5) Scholars began as early as the year iioo to gather 
philosophy, eagerly about masters who lectured upon the Roman and 
sities. canon law or upon logic, philosophy, or theology. The works 

of Aristotle, the most learned of the ancients, were sought out, 
and students followed him enthusiastically into all fields of 
knowledge. The universities grew up which are now so con- 
spicuous a feature of our modern civilization. 
Beginnings (6) Scholars could not satisfy themselves permanently with 

tai science. the works of Aristotle but began themselves to add to the fund 
of human knowledge. In Roger Bacon and his sympathizers 
we find a group of scientific investigators who were preparing 
the way for the unprecedented achievements in natural science 
which are the glory of recent times. 
Artistic (7) The developing appreciation of the beautiful is attested 

by the skill and taste expressed in the magnificent churches of 
the twelfth and thirteenth centuries, which were not a revival 
of any ancient style but the original production of the architects 
and sculptors of the period. 

General Reading. — The most convenient and readable account of 
mediaeval literature is perhaps that of Saintsbury, The Flou7'ishing of 
Romance (Charles Scribner's Sons, ^1.50). For chivalry, see Cornish, 
Chivalry (The Macmillan Company, ^1.75). For Gothic architecture, 
see C. H. Moore, Development and Character of Gothic Architecture 
(The Macmillan Company, ^4.50). For the art in general, LIjbke, 
Outlines of the History of Art (Dodd, Mead & Co., 2 vols., ^7.50). 
For the universities, Rashdall, History of the Universities of the 
Middle Ages (Clarendon Press, 3 vols., |5 14.00). 




105. In dealing with the history of Europe during the four- Plan of the 
teenth and fifteenth centuries the following order has been fourchapters, 
adopted, (i) England and France are treated together, since 
the claims of the English kings to the French crown, and the 
long Hundred Years' War between the two countries, bring 
them into the same tale of disorder and final reorgani- 
zation. (2) Next the history of the papal power and the 
remarkable efforts to better the Church at the great Council 
of Constance (14 14) are considered. (3) Then the progress 
of enhghtenment is taken up, particularly in the Italian towns, 
which were the leaders in culture during this, period. This 
leads to an account of the invention of printing and the 
extraordinary geographical discoveries of the latter part of 
the fifteenth century. (4) In a fourth chapter the situation 
of western Europe at the opening of the sixteenth century 
is described, in order that the reader may be prepared to 
understand the great revolt against the Church under the 
leadership of Martin Luther. 

We turn first to England. The English kings who pre- Extent of 

ceded Edward I had ruled over only a portion of the island of of England's 
^ x^-- rr-.! r ^ • 1 • 1 1 1 lealms befoiB 

Great Britain. 1 o the west of their kingdom lay the moun- Edward i 

tainous district of Wales, inhabited by that remnant of the 
original Britons which the German invaders had been unable 
to conquer. To the north of England was the kingdom of 
Scotland, which was quite independent except for an occa- 
sional vague recognition on the part of its rulers of the English 




History of Western Europe 

Edward I. 

kings as their feudal superiors. Edward I, however, succeeded 
in conquering Wales permanently and Scotland temporarily. 

For centuries a border warfare had been carried on between 
the EngUsh and the Welsh. William the Conqueror had found 
it necessary to establish a chain of earldoms on the Welsh 
frontier, and Chester, Shrewsbury, and Monmouth became the 
outposts of the Normans. While the raids of the Welsh con- 
stantly provoked the English kings to invade Wales, no per- 
manent conquest was possible, for the enemy retreated into 
the mountains about Snowdon and the EngHsh soldiers were 
left to starve in the wild regions into which they had ventured. 
The long and successful resistance which the Welsh made 
against the EngUsh must be attributed not only to their inac- 
cessible retreats but also to the patriotic inspiration of their 
bards. These fondly believed that their people would some- 
time reconquer the whole of England, which they had pos- 
sessed before the coming of the Angles and Saxons.^ 

When Edward I came to the throne he demanded that 
Llewelyn, Prince of Whales, as the head of the Welsh clans was 
called, should do him homage. Llewelyn, who was a man of 
abiUty and energy, refused the king's summons, and Edward 
marched into Wales. Two campaigns were necessary before 
the Welsh finally succumbed. Llewelyn was killed (1282), and 
with him expired the independence of the Welsh people. 
Edward divided the country into shires and introduced 
English laws and customs, and his policy of conciliation was so 
successful that there was but a single rising in the country for 
a whole century. He later presented his son to the Welsh as 
their prince, and from that time down to the present the title 
of "Prince of Wales" has usually been conferred upon the 
heir to the English throne. 

The conquest of Scotland proved a far more difficult matter 
than that of Wales. The early history of the kingdom of 

1 Reference, Green, Short History of the English Peofle, pp. 161-169- 

The Hundred Years' War 279 

Scotland is a complicated one. When the Angles and Saxons 
landed in Britain, a great part of the mountainous region north 
of the Firth of Forth was inhabited by a Celtic tribe, the Picts. 
There was, however, on the west coast a little kingdom of the 
Irish Celts, who were then called Scots. By the opening of TheHigh- 
the tenth century the Picts had accepted the king of the Scots Lowlands, 
as their ruler, and the annalists begin to refer to the highland 
region as the land of the Scots. As time went on the English 
kings found it to their advantage to grant to the Scottish 
rulers certain border districts, including the Lowlands, between 
the river Tweed and the Firth of Forth. This region was 
English in race and speech, while the Celts in the Highlands 
spoke, and still speak, Gaelic. 

It was very important in the history of Scotland that its Character 
kings chose to dwell in the Lowlands rather than in the^ habitants 
Highlands, and made Edinburgh, with its fortress, their chief Lowlands, 
town. With the coming of William the Conqueror many Eng- 
lishmen, and also a number of discontented Norman nobles, fled 
across the border to the Lowlands of Scotland, and founded 
some of the great families, like those of BalHol and Bruce, who 
later fought for Scottish liberty. During the twelfth and thir- 
teenth centuries the country, especially in the south, developed 
rapidly under the influence of the neighboring Anglo-Norman 
civilization, and the towns increased in size and importance. 

It was not until the time of Edward I that the long series Edward 

of troubles between England and Scotland beeran. The death in scotch 

° ^^ affairs, 

of the last representative of the old line of Scotch kings in 

1290 was followed by the appearance of a number of claimants 
to the crown. In order to avoid civil war, Edward was asked 
to decide who should be king. He agreed to make the deci- 
sion on condition that the one whom he selected should hold 
Scotland as a fief from the English king. This arrangement 
was adopted, and the' crown was given to Robert BalUol. But 
Edward unwisely made demands upon the Scots which aroused 


History of Western Europe 

Alliance be- 
tween Scot- 
land and 


attempts to 





gains its 
under Robert 

Battle of 
burn, 1314. 

The Scottish 
nation differs 
from the 

their anger, and their king renounced his homage to the king 
of England. The Scotch, moreover, formed an alliance with 
Edward's enemy, Philip the Fair of France ; thenceforth, in all 
the difficulties between England and France, the English kings 
had always to reckon with the disaffected Scotch, who were 
glad to aid England's enemies. 

Edward marched in person against the Scotch (1296) and 
speedily put down what he regarded as a rebellion. He 
declared that Balliol had forfeited his fief through treason, 
and that consequently the English king had become the imme- 
diate lord of the Scotch nobles, whom he forced to do him 
homage. He emphasized his claim by carrying off the famous 
Stone of Scone, upon which the kings of Scotland had been 
crowned for ages. Continued resistance led Edward to attempt 
,to incorporate Scotland with England in the same way that he 
had treated Wales. This was the beginning of three hundred 
years of intermittent war between England and Scotland, which 
ended only when a Scotch king, James VI, succeeded to the 
EngHsh throne in 1603 as James I. 

That Scotland was able to maintain her independence was 
mainly due to Robert Bruce, a national hero who succeeded 
in bringing both the nobility and the people under his leader- 
ship. Edward I died, old and worn out, in 1307, when on his 
way north to put down a rising under Bruce, and left the task 
of dealing with the Scotch to his incompetent son, Edward H. 
The Scotch acknowledged Bruce as their king and decisively 
defeated Edward H in the great battle of Bannockburn, the 
most famous conflict in Scottish history. Nevertheless, the 
English refused to acknowledge the independence of Scotland 
until forced to do so in 1328. 

In the course of their struggles with England the Scotch 
people of the Lowlands had become more closely welded 
together, and the independence of Scotland, although it 
caused much bloodshed, first and last, served to develop 

The Hundred Yem's War 281 

certain permanent differences between the little Scotch nation 

and the rest of the English race. The peculiarities of the 

people north of the Tweed have been made familiar by the 

writings of gifted Scotchmen like Burns, Scott, and Stevenson. 

Edward IPs numerous enemies took advantage of his weak- Growth of 

the power of 
ness to bring about his downfall, but it is noteworthy that they Parliament. 

worked through Parliament and in that way strengthened that 
fundamental national institution. We have seen how Edward I 
called representatives of the townspeople, as well as the 
nobles and prelates, to the Model Parliament of 1295.^ This 
important innovation was formally ratified by his son, who 
solemnly promised that all questions relating to his realm and 
its people should be settled in parliaments in which the com- 
mons should be included. Thereafter no statute could be 
legally passed without their consent. In 1327 Parliament 
showed its power by forcing Edward II to abdicate in favor 
of his son, and thereby established the principle that the 
representatives of the nation might even go so far as to depose 
their ruler, should he show himself clearly unfit for his high 
duties. About this time Parliament began to meet in two 
distinct divisions, which later became the House of Lords and 
the House of Commons. In modern times this form of legis- 
lative assembly has been imitated by most of the countries of 

106. The so-called Hundred Years' War, which we must cause of the 
now review, was a long but frequently interrupted series of Years' war. 
conflicts between the English and the French kings. It began 
in the following manner. The king of England, through John's 
misconduct, had lost Normandy and other portions of the 
great Plantagenet realm on the continent.^ He still retained, 
however, the extensive duchy of Guienne, for which he did 
homage to the king of France, whose most powerful vassal 

1 See above, p. 147. 

2 See above, pp. 127-128 and 130. 


History of Western Europe 

he was. This arrangement was bound to produce constant 
difficulty, especially as the French kings were, as we have 
discovered, bent upon destroying as fast as possible the 
influence of their vassals, so that the royal power should 
everywhere take the place of that of the feudal lords. It 
was obviously out of the question for the king of England 
meekly to permit the French monarch to extend his control 
directly over the people of Guienne, and yet this was the 
constant aim of Philip the Fair ^ and his successors. 

The French Kings during the Fourteenth and 
Fifteenth Centuries 

Louis IX (Saint 
Philip III 

Louis) (1226-1270) 

eof Vc 

Philip IV, 


the Fair 

Charles of Va 
ancestor of the hous 



Louis X 

Isabella, m. 
Edward II 



III of 



Philip V Charles IV 
1316-1322) (1322-1328) 

daughters daughter 







Charles VII 

daughter John 



who died 

when but 





a few 
days old 

es V 

es VI 



founder of 
the power- 
ful house 
of Bur- 

Louis XI (1461-1483) 
Charles VIII (1483-1498) 

1 See above, pp. 

The Hundred Years' War 283 

The inevitable struggle between England and France was The French 
rendered the more serious by the claim made by Edward III in 1328. 
that he was himself the rightful king of France. He based 
his pretensions upon the fact that his mother Isabella was the 
daughter of PhiHp the Fair. PhiHp, who died in 13 14, had 
been followed by his three sons in succession, none of whom had 
left a male heir, so that the direct male line of the Capetians 
was extinguished in 1328. The lawyers thereupon declared 
that it was a venerable law in France that no woman should 
succeed to the throne. The principle was also asserted that 
a woman could not even transmit the crown to her son. Con- 
sequently Edward III appeared to be definitely excluded, and 
PhiUp VI of Valois, a nephew of Phihp the Fair, became king. 

At first Edward III, who was a mere boy in 1328, appeared Edward in 
to recognize the propriety of this settlement and did qualified French 
homage to Philip VI for Guienne. But when it became 
apparent later that Philip was not only encroaching upon 
Edward's prerogatives in Guienne but had sent French troops 
to aid the Scotch, the Enghsh king bethought him of his 
neglected claim to the French crown. 

The advantage of pubHcly declaring himself the rightful The Flemish 
king of France was increased by the attitude of the flourishing 
towns of Flanders. Philip VI had assisted the count of 
Flanders in a bitter struggle to prevent the towns from estab- 
lishing their independence. Consequently the Flemish burghers 
now announced their willingness to desert Philip and acknowl- 
edge and aid Edward as their king. 

Flanders at this period was the most important trading and commercial 

r • . -r^ ^1 relations 

manufacturing country in western Europe. Ghent was a great between 

• ,M ,. , J J -r> the Flemish 

manufactunng town, like Manchester to-day, and Bruges a towns and 

busy port, like modern Antwerp or Liverpool. All this pros- 
perity was largely dependent upon England, for it was from 
there that the Flemish manufacturers procured the fine, long English 
wool which they wove on their looms into cloth and spun into 


History of Western Europe 

Edward III 
France, 1346. 

The English 
victory at 
the battle of 
Cr6cy, 1346. 

yarn. In 1336 the count of Flanders, perhaps at Philip's sug- 
gestion, ordered the imprisonment of all the Englishmen in 
Flanders. Edward promptly retaliated by prohibiting the 
export of wool from England and the importation of cloth. 

At the same time he protected 

and encouraged the Flemish 
artisans who had emigrated 
across the Channel and were 
carrying on their industry in 
the county of Norfolk. 

It is clear, then, that the 
Flemish burghers had good 
reason for wishing Edward to 
become their king, so that 
their relations with England 
might not be broken off. They 
did their part in inducing him 
Royal Arms of Edward III ^^ undertake the conquest of 

France, and (in 1340) we find him adding the Jieur de lis 
of France to the lions of the English royal arms. 

Edward did not invade France for some years, but his 
sailors destroyed the French fleet and began to show them- 
selves able to maintain their king's claim to be lord of the Eng- 
lish seas upon every side. In 1346 Edward himself landed 
in Normandy, devastated the country, and marched up the 
Seine almost to Paris, but was then obliged to retreat northward 
before a large army which Philip had collected. Edward 
made a halt at Crecy, and here one of the most celebrated 
battles of history took place. It taught the world a great 
lesson in warfare by proving once more, as the battle of Ban- 
nockburn had already done, that foot soldiers, properly armed 
and trained to act in concert, could defeat the feudal cava- 
liers in spile of their lances and heavy armor. The proud 
mounted knights of France performed prodigies of valor, each 

The Hundred Years War 285 

for himself, but they did not act together and could not hold 
their ground against the deadly shower of arrows poured into 
their midst from the long bows of the English archers. The 
flower of French chivalry was routed with terrible slaughter by 
the serried ranks of the humble English foot soldiers.^ It was 
at Crecy that Edward's son, the Black Prince, — so named 
from his black armor, — won his spurs.^ 

After this great victory the English king proceeded to lay The English 
siege to Calais, the French coast town nearest England. This 
he took, drove out a great part of the inhabitants, and substi- 
tuted EngUshmen for them. The town remained subject to 
England for two centuries. When the war was renewed the 

Black Prince, now at the height of his fame, was able to deal The Black 

•11 1 • -1 1 1 ^ / XT Prince wins 

the enemy a still more crushing blow than at Crecy. He a second 

fifrGcit victory 

again put the French knights to flight in the battle of Poitiers ; at Poitiers, 

he even captured the French king, John, and carried him off 

to London. 

107. The French quite properly attributed the signal disas- The Estates 

ters of Crecy and Poitiers to the inefliciency of their king and attempt to 
. y o control the 

his advisers. Accordingly, after the second defeat, the Estates king and 

General, which had been summoned to approve the raising government. 
of more money, attempted to take matters into their own 
hands. The representatives of the towns, whom Philip the 
Fair had first called in,^ were on this occasion more numer- 
ous than the members of the clergy and nobility. A great list 
of reforms was drawn up, which provided, among other things, 
that the Estates should meet regularly whether summoned by 

1 Formerly it was supposed that gunpowder helped to decide the battle in 
favor of the English, but if siege guns, which were already beginning to be used, 
were employed at all they were too crude and the charges too light to do 
much damage. For some generations to come the bow and arrow held its own ; 
it was not until the sixteenth century that gunpowder came to be commonly and 
effectively used in battles. 

2 For the account of Crecy by Froissart, the celebrated historian of the four- 
teenth century, see Readings, Chapter XX. 

3 See above, pp. 1 31-132. 


History of Western Europe 

between the 
position of 
the Estates 
General and 
the English 

Treaty of 

the king or not, and that the collection and expenditure of 
the public revenue should be no longer entirely under the con- 
trol of the king but should be supervised by the representa- 
tives of the people. The city of Paris rose in support of the 
revolutionary Estates, but the violence of its allies discredited 
rather than helped the movement, and France was soon glad 
to accept the unrestricted rule of its king once more.^ 

This unsuccessful attempt to reform the French government 
is interesting in two ways. In the first place, there was much 
in the aims of the reformers and in the conduct of the Paris mob 
that suggests the great successful French revolution of 1789, 
which at last fundamentally modified the organization of the 
state. In the second place, the history of the Estates forms a 
curious contrast to that of the English Parliament, which was 
laying the foundation of its later power during this very period. 
While the French king occasionally summoned the Estates when 
he needed money, he did so only in order that their approba- 
tion of new taxes might make it easier to collect them. He 
never admitted that he had not the right to levy taxes if he 
wished without consulting his subjects. In England, on the 
other hand, the kings ever since the time of Edward I had 
repeatedly agreed that no new taxes should be imposed without 
the consent of Parliament. Edward II had gone farther and 
accepted the representatives of the people as his advisers in 
all important matters touching the welfare of the realm. While 
the French Estates gradually sank into insignificance, the 
English Parliament soon learned to grant no money until the 
king had redressed the grievances which it pointed out, and 
thus it insured its influence over the king's policy. 

Edward III found it impossible to conquer France in spite 
of the victories of the Black Prince and the capture of John. 
He was glad in 1360 to sign the treaty of Bretigny, in which 
he not only renounced his pretensions to the French crown 

1 Reference, Adams, Growth of the French Natioti, pp 1 16-123. 

TJie Himdred Years' War 


but agreed to say no more of the old claims of his family to 
Normandy and the Plantagenet provinces north of the Loire. 
In return for these concessions he received, in full sovereignty 
and without any feudal obligations to the king of France, 
Poitou, Guienne, Gascony, and the town of Calais, amount- 
ing to about one third of the territory of France. 

42 25 50 100 150 

West Longitude from Qreei.jwich 4 

French Territory ceded to England by the Treaty of 
Bretigny, 1360 

The promismg peace of Bretigny was however soon broken. England 

, ^ . , , r r^ • loses most 01 

The Black Prmce, to whom the government oi Cxuienne was its French 

delegated by his father, levied such heavy taxes that he before the 

quickly alienated the hearts of a people naturally drawn to Edward in, 

France rather than to England. When the sagacious Charles V 

of France (1364-1380) undertook to reconquer the territory 

which his father had ceded to England, he met with no 

History of Westei'ti Europe 

condition of 

The bubonic 
plague of 
called the 
' black 

determined opposition ; Edward III was getting old and 
his warlike son, the Black Prince, had fallen mortally ill. 
So when Edward died in 1377 nothing remained to the 
Enghsh king except Calais and a strip of land from Bordeaux 

For a generation after the death of Edward III the war 
with France was almost discontinued. France had suffered 
a great deal more than England. In the first place, all the 
fighting had been done on her side of the Channel, and in 
the second place, the soldiers who found themselves without 
occupation after the treaty of Bretigny had wandered about in 
bands maltreating and plundering the people. Petrarch, who 
visited France at this period, tells us that he could not believe 
that this was the same kingdom which he had once seen so 
rich and flourishing. "Nothing presented itself to my eyes 
but fearful solitude and extreme poverty, uncultivated land and 
houses in ruins. Even about Paris there were everywhere 
signs of fire and destruction. The streets were deserted ; the 
roads overgrown with weeds." 

The horrors of war had been increased by the deadly 
bubonic plague which appeared in Europe early in 1348. In 
April it had reached Florence ; by August it was devastating 
France and Germany ; it then spread over England from the 
southwest northward, attacking every part of the country during 
the year 1349. This disease, like other terrible epidemics, such 
as smallpox and cholera, came from Asia. Those who were 
stricken with it usually died in two or three days. It is impos- 
sible to tell what proportion of the population perished. 
Reports of the time say that in one part of France but one 
tenth of the people survived, in another but one sixteenth; 
and that for a long time five hundred bodies were carried 
from the great hospital of Paris every day. A careful estimate 
shows that in England toward one half of the population 
died. At the Abbey of Newenham only the abbot and two 

The Hundred Years' War 


monks were left alive out of twenty-six. There were constant 
complaints that certain lands were no longer of any value 
to their lords because the tenants were all dead. 

108. In England the growing discontent among the agri- 
cultural classes may be ascribed partly to the results of the great 
pestilence and partly to the new taxes which were levied in order 
to prolong the disastrous war with France. Up to this time the 
majority of those who cultivated the land belonged to some par- 
ticular manor, paid stated dues to their lord, and performed defi- 
nite services for him. Hitherto there had been relatively few 
farm hands who might be hired and who sought employment 
anywhere that they could get it. The black death, by greatly 
decreasing the number of laborers, raised wages and served to 
increase the importance of the unattached laborer. Conse- 
quently he not only demanded higher wages than ever before, 
but readily deserted one employer when another offered him 
more money. 

This appeared very shocking to those who were accustomed 
to the traditional rates of payment ; and the government under- 
took to keep down wages by prohibiting laborers from asking 
more than had been customary during the years that preceded 
the pestilence. Every laborer, when offered work at the estab- 
lished wages, was ordered to accept it on pain of imprison- 
ment. The first "Statute of Laborers"^ was issued in 135 1 ; 
but apparently it was not obeyed and similar laws were 
enacted from time to time for a century. Nevertheless com- 
plaints continued that serfs and laborers persisted in demand- 
ing " outrageous and excessive hire." This seems to indicate 
that the efforts of Parliament to interfere with the law of 
supply and demand were unsuccessful. 

The old manor system was breaking up. Many of the labor- 
ing class in the country no longer held land as serfs but moved 

of English 

The Stat- 
utes of 
issued in 
1351 and 

up of the 
manors in 

1 For an example of the Statutes of Laborers, see Tratislaiions and Reprints, 
Vol. II, No. 5, and Lee, Sottrce-book of English History, pp. 206-208. 


History of Western Europe 

Causes of 
among the 

' The Vision 
of Piers 

The peasant 
revolt of 

from place to place and made a living by working for wages. 
The villain^ as the serf was called in England, began to regard 
the dues which he had been accustomed to pay to his lord as 
unjust. A petition to Parliament in 1377 asserts that the vil- 
lains are refusing to pay their customary services to their lords 
or to acknowledge the obligations which they owe as serfs. 

The discontent was becoming general. We see it reflected 
in a remarkable poem of the time, "The Vision of Piers 
Ploughman," in which the unfortunate position of the peasant 
is vividly portrayed.^ This is only the most notable example 
of a great number of pamphlets, some in prose and some 
in bad verse, which were calculated to make the people more 
discontented than ever. The efforts to enforce the provi- 
sions of the Statutes of Laborers had undoubtedly produced 
much friction between the landlords and their employees. A 
new form of taxation also caused much irritation. A general 
poll tax, which was to be paid by every one above sixteen 
years of age, was estabhshed in 1379 and another one in the 
following year to meet the expenses of the hopeless French 
war which was now being conducted by incapable and highly 
unpopular ministers. 

In 1 38 1 rioting began among the peasants in Kent and Essex, 
and several bodies of the insurgents determined to march upon 
London. As they passed along the road their ranks were swelled 
by discontented villagers and by many of the poorer workingmen 
from the towns. Soon the revolt spread all through southern 
and eastern England. The peasants burned some of the 
houses of the gentry and of the rich ecclesiastics, and took 
particular pains to see that the lists for the collection of the 
hated poll tax were destroyed, as well as the registers kept 
by the various lords enumerating the obligations of their 
serfs. The gates of London were opened to the insurgents 
by sympathizers within the walls, and several of the king's 

1 For extracts, see Readings, Chapter XX. 

The Htmdi'ed Years War 291 

officers were seized and put to death. Some of the simple 
people imagined that they might induce the boy king, Richard 
II, to become their leader. He had no idea of aiding them ; 
he went out, however, to meet them and induced them to 
disperse by promising that he would abolish serfdom. 

Although the king did not keep his promise, serfdom Final disap- 
decayed rapidly. It became more and more common for serfdom in 
the serf to pay his dues to the lord in money instead of work- 
ing for him, and in this way he lost one of the chief character- 
istics of a serf. The landlord then either hired men to cultivate 
the fields which he reserved for his own use ^ or rented the 
land to tenants. These tenants were not in a position to force 
their fellow-tenants on the manor to pay the full dues which 
had formerly been exacted by the lord. Sixty or seventy years 
after the Peasants' War the English rural population had in 
one way or another become free men, and serfs had practically 

109. The war with France had, as we have seen, almost Deposition of 
ceased for a generation after the death of Edward III. The and accession 
young son of the Black Prince, Richard II, who succeeded his of Lancaster, 
grandfather on the throne, was controlled by the great noble- 
men whose rivalries fill much space in the annals of England. 
He was finally forced to abdicate in 1399. Henry IV, of the 
powerful house of Lancaster,^ was recognized as king in spite 
of the fact that he had less claim than another descendant of 

Edward HI, who was, however, a mere boy. Henry IV's Henry v 

. , , 11., ... claims the 

uncertain title may have made him less enterprising than French 

cro^vn \A\A. 

Edward HI ; at any rate, it was left for his son, Henry V 
(14 1 3-142 2), to continue the French war. The conditions 
in France were such as to encourage the new claim which 
Henry V made to the French crown in 14 14. 

1 See description of manor, see above, pp. 234-235. 

2 For this younger line of the descendants of Edward I, see genealogical table 
below, p. 297. 


Histo?y of Western Europe 

Civil war 
in France 
between the 
houses of 
and Orleans. 

Position of 
Henry V. 


Treaty of 



The able French king, Charles V, who had delivered his coun- 
try for a time from the English invaders/ had been followed 
in 1380 by Charles VI, who soon lost his mind. The right to 
govern France consequently became a matter of dispute among 
the insane king's uncles and other relations. The country was 
divided between two great factions, one of which was headed 
by the powerful duke of Burgundy, who was building up a new 
state between France and Germany, and the other by the duke 
of Orleans. In 1407 the duke of Orleans was brutally mur- 
dered by order of the duke of Burgundy, — a by no means 
uncommon way at that time of disposing of one's enemies in 
both France and England. This led to a prolonged civil war 
between the two parties, and saved England from an attack 
which the duke of Orleans had been planning. 

Henry V had no real basis for his claim to the French crown. 
Edward III had gone to war because France was encroaching 
upon Guienne and aiding Scotland, and because he was 
encouraged by the Flemish towns. Henry V, on the other 
hand, was merely anxious to make himself and his house pop- 
ular by deeds of valor. Nevertheless his very first victory, the 
battle of Agincourt, was as brilliant as that of Crecy or Poitiers. 
Once more the English bowmen slaughtered great numbers of 
French knights. The English then proceeded to conquer 
Normandy and march upon Paris. 

Burgundians and Orleanists were upon th,e point of forget- 
ting their animosities in their common fear of the Enghsh, 
when the duke of Burgundy, as he was kneeHng to kiss the 
hand of his future sovereign, the Dauphin,^ was treacherously 
attacked and killed by a band of his enemies. His son, the 
new duke of Burgundy, Philip the Good, immediately joined 

1 See above, p. 287. 

2 The title of Dauphin, originally belonging to the ruler of Dauphiny, was 
enjoyed by the eldest son of the French king after Dauphiny became a part of 
France in 1349, in the same way that the eldest son of the English king was 
called Prince of Wales. 

The Hundred Year's War 293 

the English against the Dauphin, whom he believed to be 
responsible for his father's murder. Henry then forced the 
French to sign the treaty of Troyes {1420), which provided 
that he was to become king of France upon the death of the 
mad Charles VI. 

Both Henry V and Charles VI died two years later. Henry Henry yi 
V's son, Henry VI, was but nine months old ; nevertheless kin°/fn^^ 
according to the terms of the treaty of Troyes he succeeded to France, 
the throne in France as well as in England. The child was recog- 
nized only in a portion of northern France. Through the abihty 
of his uncle, the duke of Bedford, his interests were defended 
with such good effect that the Enghsh succeeded in a few years in 
conquering all of France north of the Loire, although the south 
continued to be held by Charles VII, the son of Charles VI. 

Charles VII had not yet been crowned and so was still joanof Arc. 
called the Dauphin even by his supporters. Weak and indo- 
lent, he did nothing to stem the tide of English victories 
or restore the courage and arouse the patriotism of his dis- 
tressed subjects. This great task was reserved for a young 
peasant girl from a remote village on the eastern border of 
France. To her family and her companions Joan of Arc 
seemed only " a good girl, simple and pleasant in her ways," 
but she brooded much over the disasters that had overtaken 
her country, and a " great pity on the fair realm of France " 
filled her heart. She saw visions and heard voices that bade 
her go forth to the help of the king and lead him to Rheims 
to be crowned. 

It was with the greatest difficulty that she got anybody Relief of 
1 1 • • 1 • • 111 J • Orleans by 

to beheve m her mission or to help her to get an audience joan, 1429. 

with the Dauphin. But her own firm faith in her divine 

guidance triumphed over all doubts and obstacles. She was at 

last accepted as a God-sent champion and placed at the head 

of some troops despatched to the relief of Orleans. This city, 

which was the key to southern France, had been besieged by 


History of Western Europe 

the English for some months and was on the point of sur- 
render. Joan, who rode on horseback at the head of her 
troops, clothed in armor like a man, had now become the. 
idol of the soldiers and of the people. Under the guidance 
and inspiration of her indomitable courage, sound sense, and 
burning enthusiasm, Orleans was relieved and the English 

Possessions of the English King in France upon the Accession 
of Henry VI, 1424 

completely routed. The Maid of Orleans, as she was hence- 
forth called, was now free to conduct the Dauphin to Rheims, 
where he was crowned in the cathedral (July 17, 1429). 

The Maid now felt that her mission was accomplished and 
begged permission to return to her home and her brothers 
and sisters. To this the king would not consent, and she 
continued to fight his battles with undiminished loyalty. But 

The Hundred Years' War 295 

the other leaders were jealous of her, and even her friends, the 

soldiers, were sensitive to the taunt of being led by a woman. 

During the defense of Compiegne in May, 1430, she was allowed 

to fall into the hands of the duke of Burgundy, who sold her to 

the EngHsh. They were not satisfied with simply holding as 

prisoner that strange maiden who had so discomfited them ; 

they wished to discredit everything that she had done, and so 

declared, and undoubtedly beUeved, that she was a witch who 

had been helped by the Evil One. She was tried by a court 

of ecclesiastics, found guilty of heresy, and burned at Rouen Execution of 

in 143 1. Her bravery and noble constancy affected even her 

executioners, and an English soldier who had come to triumph 

over her death was heard to exclaim : " We are lost — we have 

burned a saint." The English cause in France was indeed 

lost, for her spirit and example had given new courage and 

vigor to the French armies.^ 

The English Parliament became more and more reluctant England 
rill . . . , loses her 

to grant tunas when there were no more victones gamed. French 

Bedford, through whose ability the EngHsh cause had hitherto 

been maintained, died in 1435, ^^^^ Philip the Good, Duke of 

Burgundy, renounced his alliance with the English and joined 

Charles VII. Owing to his acquisition of the Netherlands, 

the possessions of Philip were now so great that he might well 

be regarded as a European potentate whose alliance with 

France rendered further efforts on England's part hopeless. 

From this time on the English lost ground steadily. They 

were expelled from Normandy in 1450. Three years later, 

the last vestige of their long domination in southern France 

passed into the hands of the French king. The Hundred End of the 

Years' War was over, and although England still retained Years' war, 

Calais, the great question whether she should extend her sway 

upon the continent was finally settled. 

1 Reference, Green, Short History, pp. 274-281. For official account of the 
trial of Joan, see Colby, Sources, pp. 113-117. 

1453 • 


History of Western Europe 

The Wars of 
the Roses 
between the 
houses of 
and York, 


Edward IV 
secures the 

1 10. The close of the Hundred Years' War was followed 
in England by the Wars of the Roses, between the rival houses 
which were struggHng for the crown. The badge of the house 
of Lancaster, to which Henry VI belonged, was a red rose, and 
that of the duke of York, who proposed to push him off his 
throne, was a white one. Each party was supported by a 
group of the wealthy and powerful nobles whose rivalries, con- 
spiracies, treasons, murders, and executions fill the annals of 
England during the period which we have been discussing. 
Vast estates had come into the hands of the higher nobility by 
inheritance, and marriages with wealthy heiresses. Many of 
the dukes and earls were related to the royal family and con- 
sequently were inevitably drawn into the dynastic struggles. 

The nobles no longer owed their power to vassals who were 
bound to follow them to war. Like the king, they rehed upon 
hired soldiers. It was easy to find plenty of restless fellows 
who were wiUing to become the retainers of a nobleman if he 
would agree to clothe them with his livery and keep open 
house, where they might eat and drink their fill. Their 
master was to help them when they got into trouble, and they 
on their part were expected to intimidate, misuse, and even mur- 
der at need those who opposed the interests of their chief. 
When the French war was over, the unruly elements of society 
poured back across the Channel and, as retainers of the rival 
lords, became the terror of the country. They bulhed judges 
and juries, and helped the nobles to control the selection of 
those who were sent to Parliament. 

It is needless to speak of the several battles and the many 
skirmishes of the miserable Wars of the Roses. These lasted 
from 1455, when the duke of York set seriously to work to 
displace the weak-minded Lancastrian king, Henry VI, until 
the accession of Henry VII, of the house of Tudor, thirty 
years later. After several battles the Yorkist leader, Edward IV, 
assumed the crown in 146 1 and was recognized by Parliament, 

The Hundred Years' War 


which declared Henry VI and the two preceding Lancastrian 
kings usurpers.^ Edward was a vigorous monarch and main- 
tained his own until his death in 1483. 

Edward's son, Edward V, was only a little boy, so that the 
government fell into the hands of the young king's uncle, 
Richard, Duke of Gloucester. The temptation to make him- 
self king was too great to be resisted, and Richard soon seized 
the crown. Both the sons of Edward IV were killed in the 
Tower of London, and with the knowledge of their uncle, as it 
was commonly believed. This murder made Richard unpopular 
even at a time when one could kill one's political rivals without 
incurring general opprobrium. A new aspirant to the throne 
organized a conspiracy. Richard III was defeated and slain 
in the battle of Bosworth Field in 1485, and the crown which 
had fallen from his head was placed upon that of the first 
Tudor king, Henry VII. The latter had no particular right 
to it, although he was descended from Edward III through 
his mother. He hastened to procure the recognition of 

Edward V, 
1483; Richard 
III, 1483- 

Death of 
Richard in 
the battle of 

Accession of 
Henry VII of 
the house 
of Tudor, 

1 Descent of the Rival Houses of Lancaster and York 
Edward III (1327-1377) 


the Black Prince 

(d. 1376) 

John of Gaunt, 
Duke of Lancaster 

Duke of York 

Richard II Henry IV (1399-1413) John Beaufort 

(1377-1399) I I ^ 

Henry V (1413-1422) John Beaufort 

Henry VI (1422-1461) 



Edward IV Richard III 

(1461-1483) (1483-1485) 

Edmund Tudor m, Margaret 

Henry VII m. Elizabeth of York Edward V 

(1485-1509) Murdered in 

First of the the Tower, 
Tudor kings 1483 


Histoiy of Western Europe 

End of the 
Wars of the 

The despo- 
tism of the 


establishes , 
army, 1439. 

Parliament, and married Edward IV's daughter, thus blending 
the red and white roses in the Tudor badge. ^ 

The Wars of the Roses had important results. Nearly all 
the powerful families of England had been drawn into the 
fierce struggles, and a great part of the nobility, whom the 
kings had formerly feared, had perished on the battlefield or 
lost their heads in the ruthless executions carried out by each 
party after it gained a victory. This left the king far more 
powerful than ever before. He could now dominate Parlia- 
ment, if he could not dispense with it. For a century and more 
the Tudor kings enjoyed almost despotic power. England 
ceased for a time to enjoy the free government for which 
the foundations had been laid under the Edwards and the 
Lancastrian kings, whose embarrassments at home and abroad 
had made them constantly dependent upon the aid of the 

III. In France the closing years of the Hundred Years' War 
had witnessed a great increase of the king's power through the 
establishment of a well-organized standing army. The feudal 
army had long since disappeared. Even before the opening 
of the war the nobles had begun to be paid for their military 
services and no longer furnished troops as a condition of hold- 
ing fiefs. But the companies of soldiers, although nominally 
under the command of royal officers, were often really inde- 
pendent of the king. They found their pay very uncertain, and 
plundered their countrymen as well as the enemy. As the war 
drew to a close, the lawless troopers became a terrible scourge 
to the country and were known as flayers^ on account of 
the horrible way in which they tortured the peasants in the 
hope of extracting money from them. In 1439 the Estates 
General approved a plan devised by the king, for putting an 
end to this evil. Thereafter no one was to raise a company 

1 References, Green, Short History, pp. 281-293, 299-303. 

2 See Readings^ Chapter XX. 





History of IVesterti Europe 

Extent of the 



in the 



Ambition of 
Charles the 
Bold, 1467- 

defeated by 
the Swiss at 
Granson and 

By far the most dangerous of Louis' vassals were Philip the 
Good, Duke of Burgundy (141 9-1467), and his impetuous 
son, Charles the Bold (1467-147 7). Just a century before 
Louis XI came to the throne, the old line of Burgundian dukes 
had died out, and in 1363 the same King John whom the English 

captured and carried off to 
England, presented Burgundy 
to his younger son Philip.^ 
By fortunate marriages and 
lucky windfalls the dukes of 
Burgundy had added a num- 
ber of important fiefs to their 
original possessions, and 
Philip the Good ruled over 
Franche-Com te, Luxem- 
bourg, Flanders, Artois, Bra- 
bant, and other provinces and 
towns which lie in what is now 
Holland and Belgium. 
Charles the Bold busied himself for some years before his 
father's death in forming alliances with the other powerful 
French vassals and conspiring against Louis. Upon becom- 
ing duke himself he set his heart upon two things. He 
resolved, first, to conquer Lorraine, which divided his territories 
into two parts and made it difficult to pass from Franche- 
Comte to Luxembourg. In the second place, he proposed to 
have himself crowned king of the territories which his fore- 
fathers had accumulated and in this way establish a strong 
new state between France and Germany. 

Naturally neither the king of France nor the emperor sympa- 
thized with Charles' ambitions. Louis taxed his exceptional 
ingenuity in frustrating his aspiring vassal ; and the emperor 
refused to crown Charles as king when he appeared at Trier 

1 See geneological table above, p. 282. 

Louis XI 


The Hundj^ed Years' War 301 

eager for the ceremony. The most humiliating, however, of 
the defeats which Charles encountered came from an unex- 
pected quarter. He attempted to chastise his neighbors the 
Swiss for siding with his enemies and was soundly beaten by 
that brave people in two memorable battles. 

The next year Charles fell ingloriously in an attempt to Death of 
take the town of Nancy. His lands went to his daughter ^ ^'^477. 
Mary, who w^as immediately married to the emperor's son, 
Maximilian, much to the disgust of Louis, who had already 
seized the duchy of Burgundy and hoped to gain still more. 
The great importance of this marriage, which resulted in Marriage of 
bringing the Netherlands into the hands of Austria, will be gmUy^to ^'^" 
seen when we come to consider Charles V (the grandson of ofYuSria.^ 
Mary and Maximilian) and his vast empire.-^ 

Louis XI did far more for the French monarchy than check work of 
his chief vassal and reclaim a part of the Burgundian territory. 
He had himself made heir to a number of provinces in central 
and southern France, — Anjou, Maine, Provence, etc., — which 
by the death of their possessors came under the king's immedi- 
ate control (1481). He humihated in various ways the vassals 
who in his early days had combined with Charles the Bold 
against him. The duke of Alengon he imprisoned ; the rebel- 
lious duke of Nemours he caused to be executed in the most 
cruel manner. Louis' political aims were worthy, but his means 
were generally despicable. It sometimes seemed as if he gloried 
in being the most rascally among rascals, the most treacherous 
among the traitors whom he so artfully circumvented in the 
interests of the French monarchy.^ 

Both England and France emerged from the troubles and England and 

11- ^ T T-r 1 1 XT , -.TT 1 France estab- 

desolations, of the Hundred Years War stronger than ever lish strong 

, r T 1 , • , 1 • , 1 1 national gov- 

betore. In both countries the kings had overcome the menace emments. 

of feudalism by destroying the power of the great families. 

1 See below, Chapter XXIII. 

2 Reference, Adams, French Nation, pp. 136-142. 


History of Western Europe 

of the devel- 
opment of 
states upon 
the position 
of the mediae- 
val Church. 

The royal government was becoming constantly more powerful. 
Commerce and industry increased the national wealth and 
suppHed the monarchs with the revenue necessary to main- 
tain government officials and a sufficient armed force to exe- 
cute the laws and keep order throughout their realms. They 
were no longer forced to rely upon the uncertain pledges of 
their vassals. In short, the French and the English were 
both becoming nations, each with a strong national feeling 
and a king whom every one, both high and low, recognized 
and obeyed as the head of the government. 

It is obvious that the strengthening of the royal power 
could hardly fail to alter the position of the mediaeval Church. 
This was, as we have seen, not simply a religious institution 
but a sort of international state which performed a number of 
important governmental duties. We must, therefore, now turn 
back and review the history of the Church from the time of 
Edward I and Philip the Fair to the opening of the sixteenth 

General Reading. — For the political history of this period, Lodge, 
Close of the Middle Ages (The Macmillan Company, ^1.75), is the best 
work, although rather dry and cumbered with names which might have 
been omitted. For the general history of France, see in addition to 
Adams, Growth of the French Nation (The Macmillan Company, ^1.25), 
DuRUY, A History of France (T. Y. Crowell, $2.00). The economic 
history of England is to be found in the works mentioned at the end of 
Chapter XVIII. The following collections of documents furnish illus- 
trative material in abundance : Lee, Source-book of English History 
(Holt, ^2.00); Colby, Selections from the Sources of English History, 
(Longmans, Green & Co., ^1.50) ; Adams & Stephens, Select Documents 
of English Constitutional History (The Macmillan Company, $2.25); 
Kendall, Source Book of English History (The Macmillan Company, 
80 cents). 



112. The influence which the Church and its head exer- The problem 

1 .... • 1 nr- 1 11 * 1 of the rela- 

cised over the civil government in the Miaale Ages was due tion of church 

largely to the absence of strong, efficient rulers who could 
count upon the support of a large body of prosperous and 
loyal subjects. So long as the feudal anarchy continued, the 
Church endeavored to supply the deficiencies of the restless 
and ignorant princes by striving to maintain order, administer 
justice, protect the weak, and encourage learning. So soon, 
however, as the modern state began to develop, difficulties 
arose. The clergy naturally clung to the powers and privi- 
leges which they had long enjoyed, and which they believed 
to be rightly theirs. On the other hand, the state, so soon as 
it felt itself able to manage its own affairs, protect its sub- 
jects, and provide for their worldly interests, was less and less 
inclined to tolerate the interference of the clergy and their 
head, the pope. Educated laymen were becoming more and 
more common, and the king was no longer obliged to rely 
upon the assistance of the clergy in conducting his government. 
It was natural that he should look with disfavor upon their 
privileges, which put them upon a different footing from the 
great mass of his subjects, and upon their wealth, which he 
would deem excessive and dangerous to his power. This 
situation raised the fundamental problem of the proper rela- 
tion of church and state, upon which Europe has been work- 
ing ever since the fourteenth century and has not completely 
solved yet. 


and state. 


History of Western Europe 

Edward I and 
Philip the 
Fair attempt 
to tax the 

The bull 
CleHcis laicos 
Of Boniface 
VIII, 1296. 

concedes a 
limited right 
to tax 

The difficulty which the Church experienced in maintaining 
its power against the kings is excellently shown by the famous 
struggle between Philip the Fair, the grandson of St. Louis, 
and Boniface VIII, an old man of boundless ambition and 
inexhaustible energy who came to the papal throne in 1294. 
The first serious trouble arose over the habit into which the 
kings of England and France had fallen, of taxing the property 
of the churchmen like that of other subjects. It was natural 
after a monarch had squeezed all that he could out of the 
Jews and the towns, and had exacted every possible feudal 
due, that he should turn to the rich estates of the clergy, in 
spite of their claim that their property was dedicated to God 
and owed the king nothing. The extensive enterprises of 
Edward I led him in 1296 to demand one fifth of the personal 
property of the clergy. Philip the Fair exacted one hundredth 
and then one fiftieth of the possessions of clergy and laity 

Against this impartial system Boniface protested in the 
famous bull C/en'a's laicos (1296). He claimed that the 
laity had always been exceedingly hostile to the clergy, and 
that the rulers were now exhibiting this hostility by imposing 
heavy burdens upon the Church, forgetting that they had no 
control over the clergy and their possessions. The pope, 
therefore, forbade all churchmen, including the monks, to pay, 
without his consent, to a king or niler any part of the Church's 
revenue or possessions upon any pretext whatsoever. He 
likewise forbade the kings and princes under pain of excom- 
munication to presume to exact any such payments. 

It happened that just as the pope was prohibiting the clergy 
from contributing to the taxes, Philip the Fair had forbidden 
the exportation of all gold and silver from the country. In 
that way he cut off an important source of the pope's revenue, 
for the church of France could obviously no longer send any- 
thing to Rome. The pope was forced to give up his extreme 

The Popes and the Councils 305 

claims. He explained the following year that he had not 
meant to interfere with the payment on the clergy's part of 
customary feudal dues nor with their loans of money to the 

In spite of this setback, the pope never seemed more com- The jubilee 
pletely the recognized head of the western world than during ^^°°* 
the first great jubilee, in the year 1300, when Boniface called 
together all Christendom to celebrate the opening of the new 
century by a great religious festival at Rome. It is reported 
that two millions of people, coming from all parts of Europe, 
visited the churches of Rome, and that in spite of widening 
the streets many were crushed in the crowd. So great was the 
influx of money into the papal treasury that two assistants 
were kept busy with rakes collecting the offerings which were 
deposited at the tomb of St. Peter. 

Boniface was, however, very soon to realize that even if 
Christendom regarded Rome as its religious center, the nations 
would not accept him as their political head. When he dis- 
patched an obnoxious prelate to Philip the Fair, ordering him 
to free the count of Flanders whom he was holding prisoner, 
the king declared the harsh language of the papal envoy to be 
high treason and sent one of his lawyers to the pope to 
demand that the messenger be degraded and punished. 

Philip was surrounded by a body of lawyers, and it would The Estates 
seem that they, rather than the king, were the real rulers 1302. 
of France. They had, through their study of Roman law, 
learned to admire the absolute power exercised by the Roman 
emperor. To them the civil government was supreme, and 
they urged the king to punish what they regarded as the 
insolent conduct of the pope. Before taking any action 
against the head of the Church, Philip called together the 
representatives of his people, including not only the clergy 
and the nobility but the people of the towns as well. The 

1 See Readings^ Chapter XXI. 


History of Western Europe 

insults Boni- 
face VIII. 

Death of 

Clement V, 
1305-1314, ^ 
and his sub- 
servience to 
Philip the 

The popes 
take up their 
residence at 

Estates General, after hearing a statement of the case from 
one of PhiUp's lawyers, agreed to support their monarch. 

Nogaret, one of the chief legal advisers of the king, under- 
took to face the pope. He collected a Httle troop of soldiers 
in Italy and marched against Boniface, who was sojourning at 
Anagni, where his predecessors had excommunicated two empe- 
rors, Frederick Barbarossa and Frederick II. As Boniface, in 
his turn, was preparing solemnly to proclaim the king of France 
an outcast from the Church, Nogaret penetrated into the papal 
palace with his soldiers and heaped insults upon the helpless 
but defiant old man. The townspeople forced Nogaret to 
leave the next day, but Boniface's spirit was broken and he 
soon died at Rome. 

King Philip now proposed to have no more trouble with 
popes. He arranged in 1305 to have the Archbishop of Bor- 
deaux chosen head of the Church, with the understanding that 
he should transfer the papacy to France. The new pope 
accordingly summoned the cardinals to meet him at Lyons, 
where he was crowned under the title of Clement V. He 
remained in France during his whole pontificate, moving from 
one rich abbey to another. At PhiUp's command he reluc- 
tantly undertook a sort of trial of the deceased Boniface VIII, 
who was accused by the king's lawyers of all sorts of abomi- 
nable crimes. A great part of Boniface's decrees were revoked, 
and those who had attacked him were exculpated. Then, to 
please the king, Clement brought the Templars to trial ; the 
order was abolished and its possessions in France, for which 
the king had longed, were confiscated. Obviously it proved 
very advantageous to the king to have a pope within his realm. 
Clement V died in 13 14. His successors took up their 
residence in the town of Avignon, just outside the French 
frontier of those days. There they built a sumptuous pal- 
ace in which successive popes lived in great splendor for 
sixty years. 

The Popes ajid the Councils 307 

113. The prolonged exile of the popes from Rome, lasting TheBaby^ 
from 1305 to 1377, is commonly called the Babylonian Cap- ti?ityof^^' 
tivity ^ of the Church, on account of the woes attributed to it. ® ^ """^ • 
The popes of this period were for the most part good and 
earnest men ; but they were all Frenchmen, and the proximity 
of their court to France led to the natural suspicion that they 
were controlled by the French kings. This, together with 
their luxurious court, brought them into discredit with the 
other nations.^ 

At Avignon -the popes were naturally deprived of some of The papal 
1 1 • 1 1 11 . ^ r , • T ,. taxation, 

the revenue which they had enjoyed from their Italian pos- 
sessions when they lived at Rome. This deficiency had to be 
made up by increased taxation, especially as the expenses of 
the splendid papal court were very heavy. The papacy was, 
consequently, rendered still more unpopular by the methods 
employed to raise money, particularly by the granting of bene- 
fices throughout Europe to the pope's courtiers, by the heavy 
contributions which were demanded for dispensations, for the 
confirmation of bishops, and for granting the palHum to arch- 
bishops, as well as the high fees for the trial of law suits. 

Many of the church offices, such as those of the bishops Pope's con- 
and abbots, insured a more than ample revenue to their hold- benefices, 
ers. It was natural, therefore, that the pope, in his endeavor 
to increase his income, should have tried to bring as many of 
these appointments as he could into his own hands. He did 
this by reserving to himself the filling of certain benefices so 
soon as they should become vacant. He then chose some one 
to whom he wished to do a favor and promised him the bene- 
fice upon the death of the one then holding it. Men appointed 
in this way were called provisors and were extremely unpop- 
ular. They were very often foreigners, and it was suspected 
that they had obtained these positions from the pope simply 

1 The name recalled of course the long exile of the Jews from their land. 

2 See Readings, Chapter XXI. 


History of Western Etirope 

statute of 


for the sake of the revenue, and had no mtention whatever of 
performing the duties connected with them. 

The papal exactions met with the greatest opposition in 
England because the popes were thought to favor France, 
with which country the English were at war. A law was 
passed by Parliament in 1352 ordering that all who procured 
appointments from the pope should be outlawed, that any one 
might injure such offenders at will, and that the injured should 
have no redress, since they were enemies of the king and his 
realm. ^ This and similar laws failed, however, to prevent the 
pope from filhng EngHsh benefices to the advantage of himself 
and his courtiers. The English king was unable to keep the 
money of his realm from flowing to Avignon on one pretext or 
another. It was declared by the Good Parliament, held in 
1376, that the taxes levied by the pope in England were five 
times those raised by the king. 

The most famous and conspicuous critic of the pope and of 
the poHcy of the Roman Church at this time was John Wycliffe, 
a teacher at Oxford. He was born about 1320 ; but we know 
little of him before 1366, when Urban V demanded that Eng- 
land should pay the tribute promised by King John when he 
became the pope's vassal.^ Parliament declared that John 
had no right to bind the people without their consent, and 
Wycliffe began his career of opposition to the papacy by try- 
ing to prove that John's compact was void. About ten years 
later we find the pope issuing bulls against the teachings of 
Wycliffe, who had begun to assert that the state might appro- 
priate the property of the Church if it was misused, and that 
the pope had no authority except as he acted according to the 
Gospels. Soon Wychffe went further and boldly attacked 
the papacy itself, as well as indulgences, pilgrimages, and the 

1 For statutes, see Trajislations and Reprnits^ Vol. II, No. 5, and Lee, 
Source-book, pp. 198-202. 

2 See above, p. 183. 

The Popes and the Coimcils 309 

worship of the saints ; finally he even denied the truth of the 

doctrine of transubstantiation. 

He did not, however, confine his work to a denunciation of wyciiffe's 

what he considered wrong in the teaching and conduct of the priests.' 

churchmen. He established an order of "simple priests" who 

were to go about doing good and reprove by their example the 

worldly habits of the general run of priests and monks. 

Wyciiffe's anxiety to reach the people and foster a higher wyciiffe 
. . , ,.^ , the father of 

spiritual life among them led him to have the Bible translated English 


into English. He also prepared a great number of sermons 

and tracts in English. He is the father of English prose, and 
it has been well said that '' the exquisite pathos, the keen, 
delicate irony, and the manly passion of his short, nervous 
sentences, fairly overmaster the weakness of the unformed 
language and give us English which cannot be read without a 
feeling of its beauty to this hour." 

Wyciiffe and his " simple priests " were charged with foment- influence of 
ing the discontent and disorder, which culminated in the teaching. 
Peasants' War. Whether this charge was true or not, it 
caused many of his more aristocratic followers to fall away 
from him. But in spite of this and the denunciations of 
the Church, Wyciiffe was not seriously interfered with and 
died peaceably in 1384. While his followers appear to have 
yielded pretty readily to the persecution which soon over- 
took them, his doctrines were spread abroad in Bohemia by 
another ardent reformer, John Huss, who was destined to 
give the Church a great deal of trouble. Wyciiffe is remark- 
able as being the first distinguished scholar and reformer 
to repudiate the headship of the pope and those practices 
of the Church of Rome which a hundred and fifty years after 
his death were attacked by Luther in his successful revolt 
against the mediaeval Church.^ 

1 Reference, Green, Short History, pp. 235-244. For extracts, see Readings^ 
Chapter XXI; Translations and Reprints, Vol. II, No. 5 ; Lee, Source-book, for 
the treatment of the Lollards, as the followers of Wyciiffe were called, pp. 209-223. 


History of Western Eui'ope 

The papal 
court moves 
back to 
Rome, 1377. 

Election of 
Urban VI, 

Election of an 
Clement VII. 

The Great 

114. In 1377 Pope Gregory XI moved back again to 
Rome after the popes had been exiles for seventy years, dur- 
ing which much had happened to undermine the papal power 
and supremacy. Yet the discredit into which the papacy had 
fallen during its stay at Avignon was as nothing compared with 
the disasters which befell it after the return to Rome. 

Gregory died the year, after his return and the cardinals 
assembled to choose his successor. A great part of them 
were French. They had found Rome in a sad state of ruin 
and disorder and heartily regretted the gay life and the com- 
forts and luxuries of Avignon. They determined therefore to 
select a pope who would take them back to the banks of the 
Rhone. While they were deliberating, the Roman populace 
was yelling outside the conclave and demanding that a Roman 
be chosen, or at least an Italian. A simple Italian monk was 
accordingly selected. Urban VI, who it was supposed would 
agree to the wishes of the cardinals. 

The new pope, however, soon showed that he had no idea 
of returning to Avignon. He treated the cardinals with 
harshness and proposed a stern reformation of their habits. 
The cardinals speedily wearied of this treatment ; they retired 
to the neighboring Anagni and declared that they had been 
frightened by the Roman mob into selecting the obnoxious 
Urban. They then elected a new pope, who took the title 
of Clement VII, returned to Avignon, and established his 
court there. Urban, although deserted by his cardinals, had 
no intention of yielding and proceeded to create twenty-eight 
new cardinals. 

This double election was the beginning of the Great Schism^ 
which was to last for forty years and expose the papacy to new 
attacks on every side. There had been many anti-popes in 
earlier centuries, set up usually by the emperors ; but there had 
ordinarily been little question as to who was really the legiti- 
mate pope. In the present case Europe was seriously in 

The Popes and tJie Councils 311 

doubt, for it was difficult to decide whether the election of 
Urban had really been forced and was consequently invalid 
as the cardinals claimed. No one, therefore, could be per- 
fectly sure which of the rival popes was the real successor of 
St. Peter. There were now two colleges of cardinals whose 
very existence depended upon the exercise of their right 
of choosing the pope. It was natural that Italy should sup- 
port Urban VI, while France as naturally obeyed Clement 
VII ; England, hostile to France, accepted Urban ; Scotland, 
hostile to England, supported Clement. 

Each of two men, with seemingly equal right, now claimed to The Church 


be Christ's vicar on earth : each proposed to enjoy to the full within itself 
r , 1 1 r ^, • T , , andthecon- 

the vast prerogatives of the head of Christendom, and each sequences. 

denounced, and attempted to depose, the other. The schism 
in the headship of the Church naturally extended to the 
bishoprics and abbeys, and everpvhere there were rival prel- 
ates, each of whom could claim that he had been duly con- 
firmed by one pope or the other. All this produced an 
unprecedented scandal in the Church. It emphasized all the 
abuses among the clergy and gave free rein to those who were 
inclined to denounce the many evils which had been pointed 
out by Wycliffe and his followers. The condition was, in 
fact, intolerable and gave rise to widespread discussion, not 
only of the means by which the schism might be healed, but 
of the nature and justification of the papacy itself. The dis- 
cussion which arose during these forty years of uncertainty did 
much to prepare the mind of western Europe for the Protestant 
revolt in the sixteenth century. 

The selfish and futile negotiations between the colleges of idea of the 
cardinals and the popes justified the notion that there might a general 

, , . ^, . 1 • 1 r council. 

perhaps be a power in Christendom superior even to that 01 
the pope. Might not a council, representing all Christendom, 
and inspired by the Holy Ghost, judge even a pope ? Such 
councils had been held in the East during the later Roman 

312 History of Western Europe 

Empire, beginning with the first general or ecumenical council 
of Nicaea under Constantine. They had established the teach- 
ings of the Church and had legislated for all Christian people 
and clergy.^ 
Question As early as 1381 the University of Paris advocated the sum- 

pope or a moning of a general council which should adjust the claims 
cii is the of the rival popes and give Christendom once more a single 

authority in head. This raised the question whether a council was really 
the Church. . , ^, , 1 ,- 1 , • 

superior to the pope or not. Ihose who believed that it was, 

maintained that the Church at large had deputed the election of 

the pope to the cardinals and that it might, therefore, interfere 

when the cardinals had brought the papacy into disrepute ; 

that a general assembly of all Christendom, speaking under 

the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, was a higher authority than 

even the successor of St. Peter. Others strenuously denied 

this. They claimed that the pope received his authority over 

the Church immediately from Christ, and that he had always 

possessed supreme power from the very first, although he had 

not always exercised it and had permitted the earlier councils a 

certain freedom. No council, they urged, could be considered 

a general one which was called against the will of the pope, 

because, without the bishop of the Roman or mother church, 

the council obviously could not lay claim to represent all 

Christendom. The defenders of the papal power maintained. 

moreover, that the pope was the supreme legislator, that he might 

change or annul the act of any council or of a previous pope, 

that he might judge others but might not himself be judged by 

any one.^ 

1 The eighth and last of these eastern councils, which were regarded by the 
Roman Church as having represented all Christendom, occurred in Constantinople 
in 86g. In 1123 the first Council of the Lateran assembled, and since that five or 
six Christian congresses had been convoked in the West. But these, unlike the 
earlier ones, were regarded as merely ratifying the wishes of the pope, who com- 
pletely dominated the assembly and published its decrees in his own name. 

2 See above, pp. 202-203. 

The Popes and the Councils 313 

After years of discussion and fruitless negotiations between The council 

the rival popes and their cardinals, members of both of the adds a third' 

1 • 1 1 • -1 T-.- 1 • 1 rival pope, 

colleges aeciaea in 1409 to summon a council at Pisa which 

should put an end to the schism. While large numbers of 
churchmen answered the summons and the various monarchs 
took an active interest in the council, its action was hasty and 
ill-advised. Gregory XII, the Roman pope, elected in 1406, 
and Benedict XIII, the Avignon pope, elected in 1394, were 
solemnly summoned from the doors of the cathedral at Pisa. 
As they failed to appear they were condemned for contumacy 
and deposed. A new pope was then elected, and on his death 
'a year later, he was succeeded by the notorious John XXIII, 
who had been a soldier of fortune in his earher days. John was 
selected on account of his supposed mihtary prowess. This 
was considered essential in order to guard the papal territory 
against the king of Naples, who had announced his inten- 
tion of getting possession of Rome. Neither of the deposed 
popes yielded, and as they each continued to enjoy a certain 
support, the Council of Pisa, instead of healing the schism, 
added a third person who claimed to be the supreme ruler of 

1 The Popes during the Great Schism 

Gregory XI (1373-1378) 

Returns to Rome in 1377 
Roman Line Avignon Line 

Urban VI (1378-1389) Clement VII (1378-1394) 

Boniface IX (1389-1404) Benedict XIII (1394-1417) 

Innocent VII (1404-1406) Council of Pisa? s Line 

Gregory XII (1406-1415) Alexander V (1409-1410) 

John XXIII (T410-1415) 

Martin V (1417-1431) 


History of \Vester71 Europe 

The Council 
of Constance 
meets, 1414. 

The three 
great objects 
of the Council 
of Constance. 

The healing 
of the 

The decree 



1 15. The failure of the Council of Pisa made it necessary 
to summon another congress of Christendom. Through the 
influence of the emperor Sigismund, John XXIII reluctantly- 
agreed that the council should be held in Germany, in the 
imperial town of Constance. The Council of Constance, 
which began to assemble in the fall of 14 14, is one of the 
most noteworthy international assembhes ever held. It lasted 
for over three years and excited the deepest interest through- 
out Europe. There were in attendance, besides the pope and 
the emperor-elect, twenty-three cardinals, thirty-three arch- 
bishops and bishops, one hundred and fifty abbots, and one 
hundred dukes and earls, as well as hundreds of lesser persons. 

Three great tasks confronted the council: (i) the healing 
of the schism, which involved the disposal of the three existing 
popes and the selection of a single universally acknowledged 
head of the Church ; (2) the extirpation of heresy, which, 
under the influence of Huss, was threatening the authority 
of the Church in Bohemia; (3) a general reformation of 
the Church '-in head and members." 

I. The healing of the long schism was the most important 
of the council's achievements. John XXIII was very uncom- 
fortable in Constance. He feared not only that he would be 
forced to resign but that there might be an investigation of his 
very dubious past. In March he fled in disguise from Constance, 
leaving his cardinals behind him. The council was dismayed 
at the pope's departure, as it feared that he would dissolve it 
as soon as he was out of its control. It thereupon issued a 
famous decree (April 6, 14 15) declaring its superiority to the 
pope. It claimed that a general council had its power imme- 
diately from Christ. Every one, even the pope, who should 
refuse to obey its decrees or instructions should be suitably 

A long list of terrible crimes 'of which John was suspected, 
was drawn up and he was formally deposed. He received 

The Popes and tJie Councils 315 

but little encouragement in his opposition to the council and 
soon surrendered unconditionally. Gregory XII, the Roman 
pope, showed himself amenable to reason and relieved the 
perplexity of the council by resigning in July. The third 
pope, the obstinate Benedict XIII, flatly refused to resign. 
But the council induced the Spaniards, who were his only 
remaining supporters, to desert him and send envoys to 
Constance. Benedict was then deposed (July, 141 7) and in 
the following November the cardinals who were at the council 
were permitted to elect a new pope, Martin V, and so the 
Great Schism was brought to an end. 

2. During the first year of its sessions the Council of Con- johnHuss, 
stance was attempting to stamp out heresy as well as to heal 
the schism. The marriage of an English king, Richard II, 
to a Bohemian princess shortly before Wycliffe's death, had 
encouraged some intercourse between Bohemia and England 
and had brought the works of the English reformer to the 
attention of those in Bohemia who were intent upon the 
improvement of the Church. Among these the most con- 
spicuous was John Huss (b. about 1369), whose ardent devo- 
tion to the interests of the Bohemian nation and enthusiasm 
for reform secured for him great influence in the University of 
Prague, with which he was connected. 

Huss reached the conclusion that Christians should not be 
forced to obey those who • were living in mortal sin and were 
apparently destined never to reach heaven themselves. This 
view was naturally denounced by the Church as a most dan- 
gerous error, destructive of all order and authority. As his 
opponents urged, the regularly appointed authorities must be 
obeyed, not because they are good men but because they 
govern in virtue of the law. In short, Huss appeared not 
only to defend the heresies of Wycliife, but at the same time 
to preach a doctrine dangerous alike to the power of the civil 
government and of the Church. 


History of Western Europe 

The ' safe- 

Trial of 

and execution 
of Huss, 
July, 1415. 

Huss felt confident that he could convince the council of the 
truth of his views and willingly appeared at Constance. He was 
provided with a " safe-conduct," a document in which Emperor 
Sigismund ordered that no one should do him any violence and 
wRich permitted the bearer to leave Constance whenever he 
wished. In spite of this he was speedily arrested and impris- 
oned, in December, 14 14. His treatment well illustrates the 
mediaeval attitude towards heresy. When Sigismund indig- 
nantly protested against the violation of his safe-conduct, he 
was informed that the law did not recognize faith pledged to 
suspected heretics, for they were out of the king's jurisdiction. 
The council declare*d that no pledge which was prejudicial to 
the Cathohc faith was to be observed. In judging Sigismund's 
failure to enforce his promise of protection to Huss it must be 
remembered that heresy was at that time considered a far 
more terrible crime than murder, and that it was the opinion 
of the most authoritative body in Christendom that Sigismund 
would do a great wrong if he prevented the trial of Huss. 

Huss was treated in what would seem to us a very harsh 
way ; but from the standpoint of the council he was given every 
advantage. By special favor he was granted a public hearing. 
The council was anxious that Huss should retract ; but no form 
of retraction could be arranged to which he would agree. The 
council, in accordance with the usages of the time, demanded 
that he should recognize the error of all the propositions which 
they had selected from his writings, that he should retract 
them and never again preach them, and that he should agree 
to preach the contrary. The council did not consider it its 
business to decide whether Huss was right or wrong, but simply 
whether his doctrines, which they gathered from his books, 
were in accordance with the traditional views of the Church. 

Finally, the council condemned Huss as a convicted and 
impenitent heretic. On July 6, 14 15, he was taken out before 
the gates of the city and given one more chance to retract. As 

The Popes and the Councils 317 

he refused, he was degraded from the priesthood and handed 

over to the civil government to be executed for heresy, which, 

as we have seen, the state regarded as a crime and undertook 

to punish.^ The civil authorities made no further investigation 

but accepted the verdict of the council and burned Huss upon 

the spot. His ashes were thrown into the Rhine lest they 

should become an object of veneration among his followers. 

The death of Huss rather promoted than checked the The Hussite 

spread of heresy in Bohemia. A few years later the Germans* 1419-1431. 

undertook a series of crusades against the Bohemians. This 

embittered the national animosity between the two races, which 

has even yet by no means died out. The heretics proved 

valiant fighters and after several bloody wars succeeded in 

repulsing the enemy and even invaded Germany. 

3. The third great task of the Council of Constance was opportunity 

,- , ^1 , K r T , , r. . , . of the council 

the general reformation of the Church. After John s night it to reform 

, 1 1 . 1 1 • , /• , 1 o s r the Church, 

had claimed the right (in the decree c>acrosancta) to reform 

even the papacy. This was a splendid opportunity at least to 

mitigate the abuses in the Church. The council was a great 

representative body, and every one was looking to it to remedy 

the old evils which had become more pronounced than ever 

during the Great Schism. Many pamphlets were published at 

the time by earnest men denouncing the corrupt practices of 

the clergy. The evils were of long standing and have all been 

described in earher chapters.^ 

Although every one recognized the abuses, th^ council The failure of 
, . ,^ /, , , ,. , 1 the council to 

found itself unable to remedy them or to accomphsh the effect any 

hoped-for reformation. After three years of fruitless delib- reforms. 

erations the members of the assembly became weary and hope- 
less. They finally contented themselves with passing a decree 
(Oct. 9, 14 1 7) declaring that the neglect to summon general 

1 See above, pp. 222-223. 

2 For examples of the general criticism of the abuses in the Church, see 
Translations and Reprints^ Vol. Ill, No. 6. 


History of Western EtLrope 

Abuses enu- 
merated by 
the council. 

Council of 
Basel, 1431- 

councils in the past had fostered all the evils in the Church 
and that thereafter councils should be regularly summoned at 
least every ten years. ^ In this way it was hoped that the 
absolute power of the popes might be checked in somewhat 
the same way that the Parliament in England and the Estates 
General in France controlled the monarch. 

After the passing of this decree the council drew up a list 
of abuses demanding reform, which the new pope was to con- 
sider with certain of its members after the main body of the 
council had returned home. Chief among the questions which 
the council enumerated for consideration were the number, 
character, and nationality of the cardinals, the benefices to 
which the pope had a right to appoint, what cases might be 
brought before his court, for what reason and in what manner 
the pope might be corrected or deposed, how heresy might be 
extirpated, and the matter of dispensations, indulgences, etc. 

Aside from the healing of the schism, the results of the 
Council of Constance were slight. It had burned Huss but 
had by no means checked heresy. It had considered for 
three years the reformation of the Church but had at last 
confessed its inability to carry it out. The pope later issued 
a few reform decrees, but the state of the Church was not 
materially bettered. 

116. The sturdy resistance of the Bohemians to those 
who proposed to bring them back to the orthodox faith by 
arms finally attracted the attention of Europe and called 
forth considerable sympathy. In 143 1 the last of the crusades 
against them came to an ignominious end, and Martin V was 
forced to summon a new council in order to consider the 
policy which should be adopted toward the heretics. The 
Council of Basel lasted for no less than eighteen years. hX. 
first its prestige was sufficient to enable it to dominate the 

1 This decree, Frequens, may be found in Translations and Reprints, Vol. Ill, 
No. 6. 

The Popes and the Councils 319 

pope, and it reached its greatest authority in 1434 after it had 
arranged a peace with the moderate party of the Bohemian 
heretics. The council, however, continued its hostiHty towards 
Pope Eugene IV (elected in 143 1), and in 1437 he declared 
the council dissolved and summoned a new one to meet at 
Ferrara. The Council of Basel thereupon deposed Eugene 
and chose an anti-pope. This conduct did much to discredit 
the idea of a general council in the eyes of Europe. The 
assembly gradually dwindled away and finally in 1449 acknowl- 
edged the legitimate pope once more. 

Meanwhile the Council of Ferrara ^ had -taken up the council of 


momentous question of consolidating the Eastern and Western Florence, 


Churches. The empire of the East was seriously threatened 

by the on-coming Ottoman Turks, who had made conquests 

even west of Constantinople. The Eastern emperor's advisers 

urged that if a reconciliation could be arranged with the Western 

Church, the pope might use his influence to supply arms and 

soldiers to be used against the Mohammedans. When the 

representatives of the Eastern Church met with the Council Union of 

• 1 . r ^ ^ r Eastcm and 

of Ferrara the differences m doctrine were found to be few, western 

but the question of the headship of the Church was a most 

difficult one. A form of union was, nevertheless, agreed upon 

in which the Eastern Church accepted the headship of the 

pope, " saving the privileges and rights of the patriarchs of 

the East." 

While Eugene received the credit for healing the breach Results of 
*= ® the Council 

between the East and the West, the Greek prelates, upon of Ferrara. 

returning home, were hailed with indignation and branded as 

robbers and matricides for the concessions which they had 

made. The chief results of the council were (i) the advantage 

gained by the pope in once more becoming the recognized 

head of Christendom in spite of the opposition of the Council 

of Basel, and (2) the fact that certain learned Greeks remained 

1 On account of an outbreak of sickness the council was transferred to Florence. 

320 History of Western Einvpe 

in Italy, and helped to stimulate the growing enthusiasm for 
Greek literature. 

No more councils were held during the fifteenth century, 
and the popes were left to the task of reorganizing their 
dominions in Italy. They began to turn their attention very 
largely to their interests as Italian princes, and some of them, 
beginning with Nicholas V (1447-145 5), became the patrons 
of artists and men of letters. There is probably no period in 
the history of the papacy when the head of the Church was 
more completely absorbed in forwarding his political interests 
and those of his relatives, and in decorating his capital, than in 
the seventy years which elapsed between 1450 and the begin- 
ning of the German revolt against the Church. 

General Reading. — Creighton, History of the Papacy (Longmans, 
Green & Co., 6 vols., $2.00 each), Vol. I, is perhaps the best treatment 
of the Great Schism and the Council of Constance. Pastor, Histoyy of 
the Popes (Herder, 6 vols., ^18.00), Vol. I, Book i, gives the most recent 
and scholarly account from the standpoint of a Roman Catholic. 



117. While England and France were settling their differ- itaiythe 
ences in the wretched period of the Hundred Years' War, and European 
the Httle German principaUties, left without a leader,^ were the four- 
busied with their petty concerns, Italy was the center of Euro- fifteenth 
pean culture. Its cities, — Florence, Venice, Milan, and the 
rest, — reached a degree of prosperity and refinement undreamed 
of beyond the Alps. Within their walls learning and art made 
such extraordinary progress that this period has received a 
special name, — the Renaissance^' or new birth. The Italian 
towns, like those of ancient Greece, were really little states, 
each with its own peculiar Hfe and institutions. Of these 
city-states a word must be said before considering the new 
enthusiasm for the works of the Romans and Greeks and the 
increasing skill which the Italian artists displayed in painting, 
sculpture, and architecture. 

The map of Italy at the beginning of the fourteenth century Map of 
was still divided into three zones, as it had been in the time of fourteenth 
the Hohenstaufens. To the south lay the kingdom of Naples. 
Then came the states of the Church, extending diagonally 
across the peninsula. To the north and west lay the group 
of city-states to which we now turn our attention. 

Of these none was more celebrated than Venice, which in the Venice and 
history of Europe ranks in importance with Paris and London, with the 
This singular town was built upon a group of sandy islets lying in 

1 See above, p. 186. 

2 This word, although originally French, has come into such common use that 
it is quite permissible to pronounce it as if it were English, — re-nd'sens. 



History of Western Europe 

the Adriatic Sea about two miles from the mainland. It was 
protected from the waves by a long, narrow sand bar, similar to 
those which fringe the Atlantic coast from New Jersey south- 
ward. Such a situation would not ordinarily have been delib- 
erately chosen as the site of a great city ; but its very desolation 
and inaccessibility had recommended it to its first settlers, who, 
in the middle of the fifth century, had fled from their homes 

'^\\ hK>'^ 

^ %^ te^^^ --'^^^-'^ <- ^"^ - :«»'«^ 




A Scene in Venice 

on the mainland to escape the savage Huns.^ As time went 
on the location proved to have its advantages commercially, 
and even before the Crusades Venice had begun to engage in 
foreign trade. Its enterprises carried it eastward, and it early 
acquired possessions across the Adriatic and in the Orient.^ 
The influence of this intercourse with the East is plainly shown 

1 See above, p. 27. 

2 See above, pp. 198-199 and 243. 

TJie Italiafi Cities and the Renaissance 


in the celebrated church of St. Mark, whose domes and deco- 
rations suggest Constantinople rather than Italy. 

It was not until early in the fifteenth century that Venice Venice ex- 
--..■,. 1 , tends her 

found It to her interest to extend her sway upon the Italian sway on the 

mainland. She doubtless beHeved it dangerous to permit her mainland. 

rival, Milan, to get possession of the Alpine passes through 

which her goods found their way north. It' may be, too, that 

/ VMSf A 


«i -1 



rv" ^ 

St. Mark's, Venice 

she preferred to draw her food supplies from the neighborhood 
instead of transporting them across the Adriatic from her east- 
ern possessions. Moreover, all the Italian cities except Venice 
already controlled a larger or smaller area of country about 
them. Although Venice was called a republic, there was a Thearisto- 
strong tendency toward a government of the few. About the emment of 
year 1300 all the townsmen except the members of certain 
noble families were excluded from the Grand Council, which 
was supposed to represent the people at large. 


History of Western Europe 

Milan and 
the despotic- 
ally gov- 
erned towns 
of northern 

In 131 1 the famous Council of Ten was created, whose mem- 
bers were elected by the Grand Council for one year. The 
whole government, domestic and foreign, was placed in the 
hands of this smaller council, in conjunction with the doge 
(i.e., duke), the nominal head of the republic; but they were 
both held strictly accountable to the Grand Council for all 
that they did. The government was thus concentrated in the 
hands of a very few. Its proceedings were carried on with 
great secrecy, so that public discussion, such as prevailed in 
Florence and led to innumerable revolutions there, was unheard 
of in Venice. The Venetian merchant was a busy person who 
was quite willing that the state should exercise its functions 
without his interference. In spite of the aristocratic measures 
of the council, there was little tendency to rebellion, so com- 
mon in the other Italian towns. The republic of Venice main- 
tained pretty much the same form of government from 1300 
until its destruction by Napoleon in 1798. 

118. Milan was the most conspicuous example of the large 
class of Italian cities which were governed by an absolute and 
despotic ruler, who secured control of a town either by force 
or guile, and then managed its affairs for his own personal 
advantage. At the opening of the fourteenth century a great 
part of the towns which had leagued themselves against 
Frederick Barbarossa ^ had become little despotisms. Their 
rulers were constantly fighting among themselves, conquering, 
or being conquered by, their neighbors. The practices of the 
Visconti, the family who seized the government of Milan, offer 
a fair example of the policy of the Italian tyrants. 

The power of the Visconti was first established by the 
archbishop of Milan. He imprisoned (1277) in three iron 
cages the leading members of the family who were in control 
of the city government at the moment, and had his nephew, 
Matteo Visconti, appointed by the emperor as the imperial 

1 See above, pp. 174 sqq. 

TJie Italian Cities and the Renaissance 


representative. Before long Matteo was generally recognized 

as the ruler of Milan, and was followed by his son. For over 

a century and a half some one of the family always showed 

himself skillful enough to hold his precarious position. 

The most distinguished of the Visconti despots was Gian Gian 
„ , TT 1 1-1 • , . . Galeazzo 

Galeazzo. He began his reign by capturing and poisoning visconti, 

his uncle, who was ruHng over a portion of the already exten- 
sive territory of 
the Visconti.-^ It 
seemed for a time 
that he might 
conquer all of 
northern Italy; 
but his progress 
was checked by 
the republic of 
Florence and 
then cut short by 
premature death. 
Gian Galeazzo 
exhibited all the 
traits of the Ital- 
ian despots. He 
showed himself a 
skillful and suc- 
cessful ruler, able 
to organize his 
admirably. He 
gathered literary 

Tomb of Gian Galeazzo Visconti 

1 In the year 1300 Milan occupied a territory scarcely larger than that of the 
neighboring states, but under the Visconti it conquered a number of towns, Pavia, 
Cremona, etc., and became, next to Venice, the most considerable state of northern 


History of Western Europe 

Position and 
character of 
the Italian 

The con- 

men about him ; and the beautiful buildings which were begun 
by him indicate his enthusiasm for art. Yet he was utterly 
unprincipled, and resorted to the most hideous methods in 
order to gain possession of coveted towns which he could not 
conquer or buy outright. 

There are many stories of the incredible ferocity exhibited 
by the Italian despots.-^ It must be remembered that they 
were very rarely legitimate rulers, but usurpers, who could only 
hope to retain their power so long as they could keep their 
subjects in check and defend themselves against equally ille- 
gitimate usurpers in the neighboring cities. This situation 
developed a high degree of sagacity, and many of the despots 
found it to their interest to govern well and even to give dignity 
to their rule by patronizing artists and men of letters. But 
the despot usually made many bitter enemies and was almost 
necessarily suspicious of treason on the part of those about 
him. He was ever conscious that at any moment he might 
fall a victim to the dagger or the poison cup. 

The Italian towns carried on their wars among themselves 
largely by means of hired troops. When a military expedition 
was proposed, a bargain was made with one of the leaders 
{co7idottieri)j who provided the necessary force. As the sol- 
diers had no more interest in the conflict than did those whom 
they opposed, who were likewise hired for the occasion, the 
fight was not usually very bloody ; for the object of each 
side was to capture the other without unnecessarily rough 

It sometimes happened that the leader who had conquered 
a town for his employer appropriated the fruits of the victory 
for himself. This occurred in the case of Milan in 1450. 

1 A single example will suffice. Through intrigue and misrepresentation on 
the part of Gian Galeazzo Visconti, the Marquis of Ferrara became so wildly 
jealous of his nephew that he beheaded the young man and his mother, then 
burned his own wife and hung a fourth member of the family. 

The Italian Cities and tJie Renaissance 327 

The Visconti family having died out, the citizens hired a 
certain captain, named Francesco Sforza, to assist them in a 
war against Venice, whose possessions now extended almost to 
those of Milan. When Sforza had repelled the Venetians, the 
Milanese found it impossible to get rid of him, and he and his 
successors became rulers over the town. 

An excellent notion of the position and policy of the Machiaveiii's 
Italian despots may be derived from a little treatise called 
The Prince, written by the distinguished Florentine historian, 
MachiaveUi. The writer appears to have intended his book 
as a practical manual for the despots of his time. It is a 
cold-blooded discussion of the ways in which a usurper may best 
retain his control over a town after he has once got possession 
of it. The author even takes up the questions as to how far 
princes should consider their promises when it is inconvenient 
to keep them, and how many of the inhabitants the despot 
may wisely kill. MachiaveUi concludes that the Italian princes 
who have not observed their engagements over-scrupulously, 
and who have boldly put their political adversaries out of 
the way, have fared better than their more conscientious 

119. The history of Florence, perhaps the most important Florence, 
of the Italian cities, differs in many ways from that of Venice 
and of the despotisms of which Milan is an example. In 
Florence all classes claimed the right to interest themselves in 
the government. This led to constant changes in the consti- 
tution and to frequent struggles between the different political 
parties. When one party got the upper hand it generally 
expelled its chief opponents from the city. Exile was a 
terrible punishment to a Florentine, for Florence was not 
merely his native city, — it was his country, and loved and 
honored as such. 

By the middle of the fifteenth century Florence had come The Medici, 
under the control of the great family of the Medici, whose 


History of Western Europe 

Lorenzo the 

Character of 



members played the role of very enlightened poHtical bosses. 
By quietly watching the elections and secretly controlling the 
selection of city officials, they governed without letting it be 
suspected that the people had lost their power. The most 

member of the 
house of Medici 
was Lorenzo 
the Magnifi- 
cent (d. 1492) ; 
under his rule 
reached the 
height of its 
glory in art and 

As one wan- 
ders about 
Florence to- 
day, he is im- 
pressed with the 
of the Renais- 
sance period. 
The streets are 
lined with the 
palaces of the 
noble families to 
whose rivalries 
much of the continual disturbance was due. The lower stories 
of these buildings are constructed of great stones, like fortresses, 
and their windows are barred like those of a prison ; yet within 
they were often furnished with the greatest taste and luxury. 
For in spite of the disorder, against which the rich protected 

The Palace of the Medici in Florence 

TJie Italian Cities and the Renaissance 329 

themselves by making their houses half strongholds, the beau- 
tiful churches, noble public buildings, and works of art which 
now fill the museums indicate that mankind has never, perhaps, 
reached a higher degree of perfection in the arts of peace than 
amidst the turmoil of this restless town. 

" Florence was essentially the city of intelligence in modern 
times. Other nations have surpassed the Italians in their genius 
. . . But nowhere else except at Athens has the whole popula- 
tion of a city been so permeated with ideas, so highly intellectual 
by nature, so keen in perception, so witty and so subtle, as at 
Florence. The fine and delicate spirit of the Italians existed 
in quintessence among the Florentines. And of this superiority 
not only they, but the inhabitants also of Rome and Lombardy 
and Naples were conscious. . . . The primacy of the Florentines 
in literature, the fine arts, law, scholarship, philosophy, and 
science was acknowledged throughout Italy" (Symonds). 

120. The thirteenth century had been, as we have seen, TheRenais- 
a period of great enthusiasm for learning. The new universi- mw birth. 
ties attracted students from all parts of Europe, and famous 
thinkers like Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, and Roger 
Bacon wrote great treatises on religion, science, and philos- 
ophy. The pubHc delighted in the songs and romances com- 
posed and recited in the language of the people. The builders 
contrived a new and beautiful style of architecture, and, with 
the aid of the sculptors, produced buildings which have never 
since been surpassed and rarely equaled. Why, then, are the 
two succeeding centuries called the period of the new birth, 
— the Renaissance, — as if there was a sudden reawakening 
after a long sleep, as if Europe first began in the fourteenth 
century to turn to books and art? 

The word renaissance was originally used by writers who 
had very little appreciation of the achievements of the thir- 
teenth century. They imagined that there could have been 
no high degree of culture during a period when the Latin and 


History of Western Europe 

Greek classics, which seemed so all-important to them, were 
not carefully studied. But it is now coming to be generally 
recognized that the thirteenth century had worthy intellectual 
and artistic ambitions, although they were different both from 
those of Greece and Rome and from our own. 

We cannot, therefore, conceive the "new birth" of the 
fourteenth and fifteenth centuries quite as it was viewed by 
writers of a century ago, who failed to do justice to the pre- 
ceding period. Nevertheless, about the middle of the four- 
teenth century, a very great and fundamental change did begin 
in thought and taste, in books, buildings, and pictures, and 
this change we may very well continue to call the Renaissance. 
We can best judge of its nature by considering the work of 
the two greatest men of the fourteenth century, Dante and 

Dante was first and foremost a poet, and is often ranked with 
Homer, Virgil, and Shakespeare. He is, however, interesting 
to the historian for other things than his flights of fancy and the 
music of his verse. He had mastered all the learning of his 
day ; he was a scientist and a scholar as well as a poet. His 
writings show us how the world appeared about the year 1300 
to a very acute mind, and what was the range of knowledge 
available to the most thoughtful men of that day. 

Dante was not a churchman, as were all the scholars 
whom we have hitherto considered. He was the first literary 
layman of renown since Boethius,^ and he was interested in 
helping other laymen who knew only their mother tongue 
to the knowledge heretofore open only to those who could 
read Latin. In spite of his ability to write Latin, he chose 
the mother tongue for his great poem. The Divine Comedy. 
Italian was the last of the important modern languages to 
develop, perhaps because in Italy Latin remained longest 
intelligible to the mass of the people. But Dante beHeved 

1 See above, pp. 31-32. 

The Italian Cities and the Renaissance 331 

that the exclusive use of Latin for literary purposes had already 

in his time become an affectation. He was confident that 

there were many people, both men and women, who knew 

only Italian, who would gladly read not only his verses but 

his treatise on science, — The Banquet^ as he poetically 

calls it. 

Dante's writings indicate that mediaeval scholars were by Extent of 
^ , . , , , Dante's 

no means so ignorant of the universe as they are popularly knowledge. 

supposed to have been. Although they beHeved, like the 
ancients, that the earth was the center around which the sun 
and stars revolved, they were familiar with some important 
astronomical phenomena. They knew that the earth was a 
sphere and guessed very nearly its real size. They knew that 
everything that had weight was attracted towards its center, 
and that there would be no danger of falling off should one 
get on the opposite side of the globe ; they realized also that 
when it was day on one side of the earth it was night on the 

While Dante shows a keen interest in the theological studies Dante's 
so popular in his time and still speaks of Aristotle as "the for the 
Philosopher," he exhibits a profound admiration for the other writers, 
great authors of Rome and Greece. When in a vision he visits 
the lower world, Virgil is his guide. He is permitted to behold 
the region inhabited by the spirits of virtuous pagans, and there 
he finds Horace and Ovid, and Homer, the sovereign poet. 
As he reclines upon the green turf he sees a goodly company 
of ancient worthies, — Socrates, Plato, and other Greek philoso- 
phers, Caesar, Cicero, Livy, Seneca, and many others. He is 
so overcome by the honor of sitting among such great men 
that he finds no words to report what passed between them. 
He feels no horror for their paganism, and while he believes 

1 The translation of The Banquet in Morley's "Universal Library" is very 
poor, but that of Miss Hillard (London, 1889) i* good and is supplied with 
helpful notes. 


History of Western Europe 


that they are not admitted to the beatific joys of heaven, he 
assigns them a comfortable abode, where they hold dignified 
converse with " faces neither sad nor glad." ^ 

121. The veneration for the ancient writers felt by Dante 
becomes a burning enthusiasm with Petrarch, who has been 
well called " the first modern man." He was the first scholar 

and man of letters to desert 
entirely the mediaeval learning 
and lead his contemporaries 
back to a realization of the 
beauty and value of Greek and 
Roman literature. In the 
mediaeval universities, logic, 
theology, and the interpreta- 
tion of Aristotle were the 
chief subjects of study. While 
scholars in the twelfth and 
thirteenth centuries possessed 
and read most of the Latin 
writers who have come down to us, they failed to appreciate 
their beauty and would never have dreamed of making them 
the basis of a liberal education.^ 

Petrarch declares that when a boy he delighted in the 
sonorous language of Cicero even before he could understand 
its meaning. As the years went on he became convinced that 
he could have no higher aim in life than that of collecting 
copies of all the Latin classics upon which he could lay hands. 
He was not only an indefatigable scholar himself, but he pos- 
sessed the power of stimulating, by his example, the intellectual 
ambition of those with whom he came in contact. He rendered 
the study of the Latin classics popular among cultivated per- 
sons ; and by his own untiring efforts to discover the lost 

1 See the close of the fourth canto of the Inferno. 

2 See above, pp. 271-272. 


The Italian Cities afid the Renaissance 


or forgotten works of the great writers of antiquity he roused 
a new enthusiasm for the formation of libraries.^ 

It is hard for us to imagine the obstacles which confronted 
Petrarch and the scholars of the early Renaissance. They 
possessed no good editions of the Roman and Greek authors, 
in which the correct wording had been determined by a careful 
comparison of all the known ancient copies. They considered 
themselves fortunate to secure a single manuscript of even the 
best known authors, and they could have no assurance that it 
was not full of mistakes. Indeed, the texts were so corrupted 
by the carelessness of the copyists that Petrarch declares that 
if Cicero or Livy should return and stumblingly read his own 
writings, he would promptly pronounce them the work of 
another, perhaps a barbarian. 

Petrarch enjoyed an unrivaled influence throughout western 
Europe, akin to that of Erasmus and Voltaire in later times. 
He was in constant communication with scholars, not only in 
Italy, but in the countries beyond the Alps. From his 
numerous letters which have been preserved, a great deal may 
be learned of the intellectual Hfe of the time.^ 

It is clear that he not only promoted the new study of the 
Roman writers, but that he also did much to discredit the 
learning which was popular in the universities. He refused to 

1 Copies of the ^neid, of Horace's Satires, of certain of Cicero's Ora- 
tions, of Ovid, Seneca, and a few other authors, were apparently by no means 
uncommon during the twelfth and thirteenth centuries. It seemed, however, to 
Petrarch, who had learned through the references of Cicero, St. Augustine, and 
others, something of the original extent of Latin literature, that treasures of 
inestimable value had been lost by the shameful indifference of the Middle 
Ages. "Each famous author of antiquity whom I recall," he indignantly 
exclaims, " places a new offense and another cause of dishonor to the charge of 
later generations, who, not satisfied with their own disgraceful barrenness, per- 
mitted the fruit of other minds and the writings that their ancestors had pro- 
duced by toil and application, to perish- through shameful neglect. Althougli 
they had nothing of their own to hand down to those who were to come after, 
they robbed posterity of its ancestral heritage." 

2 Petrarch's own remarkable account of his life and studies, which he gives 
in his famous " Letter to Posterity," may be found in Robinson and Rolfe, 
Petrarch, pp. 59-76. 

Obstacles to 
the study of 
the classics. 

and influ- 

Petrarch has 
no sympathy 
with the pop- 
ular studies 
of his time. 


History of Western Europe 

and Dante's 
toward their 

The human- 

Reason for 
the enthusi- 
astic study of 
the classics. 

include the works of the great scholastic writers of the thirteenth 
centu-ry in his library. Like Roger Bacon he was disgusted by 
the reverence in which the bad translations of Aristotle were held. 
As for the popular study of logic, Petrarch declared that it was 
good enough for boys, but that nothing irritated him more than 
to find a person of mature years devoting himself to the subject. 

While Petrarch is far better known for his beautiful Italian 
verses than for his long Latin poems, histories, and essays, he 
did not share Dante's confidence in the dignity of their mother 
tongue. He even depreciates his Italian sonnets as mere pop- 
ular trifles written in his youth. It was not unnatural that 
he and those in whom he aroused an enthusiasm for Latin 
Hterature should look scornfully upon Italian. It seemed to 
them a crude form of speech, good enough perhaps for the 
common people and for the transaction of the daily business 
of life, but immeasurably inferior to the language in which their 
predecessors, the Roman poets and prose writers, had written. 
The Italians, it must be remembered, felt the same pride in 
Latin literature that we feel in the works of Chaucer and Shakes- 
peare. The Italian scholars of the fourteenth and fifteenth 
centuries merely turned back to their own earlier national 
literature for their models, and tried their best to imitate the 
language and style of its masters. 

122. Those who devoted themselves to the study and 
imitation first of Roman, and later of Greek literature, are 
commonly called humanists, a name derived from the Latin 
word huma?iitas ; that is, culture, especially in the sense of 
literary appreciation. They no longer paid much attention to 
Peter Lombard's Sentences. They had, indeed, little taste for 
theology, but looked to Cicero for all those accomphshments 
which go to the making of a man of refinement. 

The /m?nanities, as Greek and Latin are still called, 
became almost a new religion among the Italian scholars 
during the century following Petrarch's death. In order to 

TJie Italian Cities and the Renaissance 335 

understand their exclusive attention to ancient literature we 
must remember that they did not have a great many of the 
books that we prize most highly nowadays. Now, every nation 
of Europe has an extensive Hterature in its own particular 
tongue, which all can read. Besides admirable translations 
of all the works of antiquity, there are innumerable master- 
pieces, like those of Shakespeare, Voltaire, and Goethe, which 
were unheard of four centuries ago. Consequently we can 
now acquaint ourselves with a great part of the best that 
has been written in all ages without knowing either Latin or 
Greek. The Middle Ages enjoyed no such advantage. So 
when men began to tire of theology, logic, and Aristotle's 
scientific treatises, they naturally turned back with single- 
hearted enthusiasm to the age of Augustus, and, later, to that 
of Pericles, for their models of literary style and for their 
ideals of life and conduct. 

A sympathetic study of the pagan authors led many of the Pagan tend- 

humanists to reject the mediaeval view of the relation of this the Italian 

life to the next.^ They reverted to the teachings of Horace 

and ridiculed the self-sacrifice of the monk. They declared 

that it was right to make the most of life's pleasures and 

needless to worry about the world to come. In some cases 

the humanists openly attacked the teachings of the Church, 

but generally they remained outwardly loyal to it and many of 

them even found positions among the officers of the papal curia. 

Humanism produced a revolution in the idea of a liberal The classics 
1- T,. 1 ,11-n r become the 

education. In the sixteenth century, through the innuence 01 basis of a 

those who visited Italy, the schools of Germany, England, and education. 

France began to make Latin and Greek hterature, rather than 

logic and other mediaeval subjects, the basis of their college 

course. It is only within the last generation that Latin and 

Greek have begun to be replaced in our colleges by a variety 

of scientific and historical studies ; and many would still 

1 See above, pp. 45-46. 


Histo7j of Western Europe 

Ignorance of 
Greek in the 
Middle Ages. 

Revival of 
Greek studies 
in Italy. 
in Florence. 

The knowl- 
edge of Greek 
common in 

maintain, with the humanists of the fifteenth century, that 
Latin and Greek are better worth studying than any other 

The humanists of the fourteenth century ordinarily knew 
no Greek. Some knowledge of that language lingered in the 
West all through the Middle Ages, but we hear of no one 
attempting to read Plato, Demosthenes, ^schylus, or even 
Homer, and these authors were scarcely ever found in the 
libraries. Petrarch and his followers were naturally much 
interested in the constant references to Greek hterature which 
occur in Cicero and Horace, both of whom freely recognized 
their debt to Athens. Shortly after Petrarch's death the city 
of Florence called to its university a professor of Greek, 
Chrysoloras from Constantinople. 

A young Florentine law student, Leonardo Bruni, tells us 
of a dialogue which he had with himself when he heard of the 
coming of Chrysoloras. "Art thou not neglecting thy best 
interests if thou failest now to get an insight into Homer, 
Plato, Demosthenes, and the other great poets, philosophers, 
and orators of whom they are telling such wonderful things? 
Thou, too, mightest commune with them and imbue thyself 
with their wisdom. Wouldst thou let the golden opportunity 
slip? For seven hundred years no one in Italy has known 
Greek literature, and yet we agree that all language comes 
from the Greeks. How greatly would familiarity with that 
language advantage thee in promoting thy knowledge and in 
the mere increase of thy pleasure? There are teachers of 
Roman law to be found everywhere, and thou wilt never want 
an opportunity to continue that study, but there is but one 
teacher of Greek, and if he escapes thee there will be no one 
from whom thou canst learn." 

Many students took advantage of the opportunity to study 
Greek, and Chrysoloras prepared the first modern Greek 
grammar for their use. Before long the Greek classics became 

The Italian Cities and the Renaissance 337 

as well known as the Latin. Italians even went to Constanti- 
nople to learn the language ; and the diplomatic negotiations 
which the Eastern Church carried on with the Western, with 
the hope of gaining help against the Turks, brought some 
Greek scholars to Italy. In 1423 an Italian scholar arrived 
at Venice with no less than two hundred and thirty-eight 
Greek books, thus transplanting a whole literature to a new 
and fruitful soil.^ Greek as well as Latin books were carefully 
copied and edited, and beautiful libraries were established by 
the Medici, the duke of Urbino, and Pope Nicholas V, who 
founded the great library of the Vatican,^ still one of the 
most important collections of books in the world. 

123. It was the glory of the Italian humanists to revive Advantages 
the knowledge and appreciation of the ancient literatures, but with movf- 
it remained for patient experimenters in Germany and Holland ^^^^* 
to perfect a system by which books could be multiplied rapidly 
and cheaply. The laborious copying of books by hand ^ had 
several serious disadvantages. The best copyists were, it is 
true, incredibly dexterous with their quills, and made their letters 
as clear and small as if they had been printed. But the work 
was necessarily very slow. When Cosimo, the father of Lorenzo 
the Magnificent, wished to form a library, he applied to a book 
contractor, who procured forty-five copyists. By working hard 
for nearly two years these men were able to produce only 
two hundred volumes. 

Moreover, it was impossible before the invention of printing 
to have two books exactly alike. Even with the greatest care 
a scribe could not hope to avoid all mistakes, and a careless 

1 Historians formerly supposed that it was only after Constantinople was 
captured by the Turks in 1453 th3.t Greek scholars fled west and took with them 
the knowledge of their language and literature. The facts given above serve as 
a sufficient refutation of this oft-repeated error. 

2 In Whitcomb, Soitrce Book of the Italian Renaissance^ pp. 70 sqq.^ interest- 
ing accounts of these libraries may be found, written by Vespasiano, the most 
important book dealer of the time. 

3 Manuscript, manu scriptuin^ means simply written by hand. 

338 History of Western Europe 

copyist was sure to make a great many. The universities 
required their students to report immediately any mistakes 
discovered in their text-books, in order that the error might 
be promptly rectified and not lead to a misunderstanding of 
the author. With the invention of printing it became possible 
to produce in a short time a great many copies of a given 
book which were exactly alike. Consequently, if great care 
were taken to see that the types were properly set, the whole 
edition, not simply a single copy, might be relied upon as correct. 
The earliest The earliest book of any considerable size to be printed was 
books.^ the Bible, which appears to have been completed at Mayence in 

the year 1456. A year later the famous Mayence Psalter was 
finished, the first dated book. There are, however, earlier 
examples of Uttle books printed with engraved blocks and 
even with movable types. In the German towns, where 

ratuo ♦rubrifauonibufcp toffitimter Diftindue' 
faDmurntone artifitiofa imprimwai arrarartm^anDi: 
Jixm Dnipllf fmio mt*lif ♦wiF^Oie^mnifia^ugiitti, 

Closing Lines of the Psalter of 1459 (much reduced) ^ 

the art spread rapidly, the printers adhered to the style of letters 
which the scribe had found it convenient to make with his 

1 The closing lines (i.e., the so-called colophon) of the second edition of the 
Psalter which are here reproduced, are substantially the same as those of the first 
edition. They may be translated as follows : " The present volume of the 
Psalms, which is adorned with handsome capitals and is clearly divided by means 
of rubrics, was produced not by writing with a pen but by an ingenious inven- 
tion of printed characters; and was completed to the glory of God and the 
honor of St. James by John Fust, a citizen of Mayence, and Peter Schoifher of 
Gernsheim, in the year of our Lord 1459, on the 29th of August." 

TJie Italian Cities and tJie Renaissance 339 

quill— the so-called Gothic^ or black letter.^ In Italy, where Black letter. 

the first printing press was set up in 1466, a type was soon 

adopted which resembled the letters used in ancient Roman Roman 

inscriptions. This was quite similar to the style of letter 

commonly used to-day. The Italians also invented the com- 
pressed italic type, which enabled them to get a great many italics, 
words on a page. The early printers generally did their 
work conscientiously, and the very first book printed is in 
most respects as well done as any later book. 

124. The stimulus of the antique ideals of beauty and the importance 
, . , of Italian art 

renewed interest m man and nature is nowhere more apparent in the 

than in the art of the Renaissance period in Italy. The bonds period. 

of tradition, which had hampered mediaeval art,^ were broken. 

The painters and sculptors continued, it is true, to depict the 

same religious subjects which their mediaeval predecessors had 

chosen. But in the fourteenth century the Italian artists 

began to draw their inspiration from the fragments of antique 

art which they found about them and from the world full 

of life and beauty in which they lived. Above all, they gave 

freer rein to their own imagination. The tastes and ideals of 

the individual artist were no longer repressed but became the 

dominant element in his work. The history of art becomes, 

during the Renaissance, a history of artists. 

The Gothic style in architecture had never taken root in Italian 

Italy. The Italians had continued to build their churches in 

a more or less modified Romanesque ^ form. While the soar- 
ing arches and delicate tracery of the Gothic cathedral had 
become the ideal of the North, in Italy the curving lines and 
harmonious proportions of the dome inspired the best efforts 

1 Note the similarity in form of the letters in the accompanying illustration 
and those in the illuminated page which serves as the frontispiece of this volume. 
It is not easy at first sight to tell some early printed books from the best manu- 
scripts. It may be observed that the Germans still adhere to a type something 
like that used by the first printers. 

2 See above, pp. 261-262. 8 See above, p. 263. 


History of Westcm Europe 

of Pisa, 
1206- 1280. 

and easel 

of the Renaissance builders. They borrowed many fine details, 
such as capitals and cornices, from the antique, and also — 
what was far more important — the simplicity and beauty of 
proportion which characterized classical architecture. Just as 
Italy had inherited, in a special sense, the traditions of classical 
literature, so it was natural that it should be more directly 
affected than the rest of Europe by the remains of Greek and 
Roman art. It is in harmony of proportion and beauty of 
detail that the great charm of the best Renaissance buildings 

It is, perhaps, in sculpture that the influence of the antique 
models was earliest and most obviously shown. The sculptor, 
Niccola of Pisa (Niccola Pisano), stands out as the first dis- 
tinguished leader in the forward movement. It is evident that 
he studied certain fragments of antique sculpture — a sarcopha- 
gus and a marble vase that had been found in Pisa — with 
the greatest care and enthusiasm. He frankly copied from 
them many details, and even several whole figures, in the 
reliefs on his most famous work, the pulpit in the baptistery 
at Pisa.-^ But while sculpture was the first of the arts to feel 
the new impetus, its progress was slow ; it was not until the 
fifteenth century that it began, in Italy, to develop on wholly 
independent and original lines. 

The paintings of the period of the early Renaissance were 
usually frescoes ; that is, they were painted directly upon the 
plaster walls of churches and sometimes of palaces. A few 
pictures, chiefly altar pieces, were executed on wooden panels, 
but it was not until the sixteenth century that easel paintings, 
that is, detached pictures on canvas, wood, or other material, 
became common. 

1 With the appearance of the mendicant orders, preaching again became an 
important part of the church service, and pulpits were erected in the body of the 
church, where the people could gather around them. These pulpits offered a fine 
opportunity to the sculptor and were often very elaborate and beautiful. 

The Italian Cities and the Renaissafice 


In the fourteenth century there was an extraordinary Giotto, 
development in the art of painting under the guidance and 
inspiration of the first great Itahan painter, Giotto. Before 
his time the frescoes, hke the illuminations in the manu- 
scripts of which we have spoken in a previous chapter, were 
exceedingly stiff and unlifelike. With Giotto there comes a 
change. Antique art did not furnish him with any models to 

Relief by Niccola of Pisa from Pulpit at Pisa, showing 
Influence of Antique Models 

copy, for whatever the ancients had accomplished in painting 
had been destroyed.-^ He had therefore to deal with the 
problems of his art unaided, and of course he could only begin 
their solution. His trees and landscapes look Hke caricatures, 
his faces are all much alike, the garments hang in stiff straight 

1 The frescoes in Pompeii and other slight remnants of ancient painting were 
not discovered till much later. 


History of Western Eiwope 

artists often 
several arts. 

Italian art in 
the fifteenth 

Florence the 
art center 
of Italy. 

folds. But he aimed to do what the earher painters apparently 
did not dream of doing — that is, paint living, thinking, feeling 
men and women. He was not even satisfied to confine himself 
to the old biblical subjects. Among his most famous frescoes 
are the scenes from the life of St. Francis,^ a theme which 
appealed very strongly to the imagination of people and artists 
alike all through the fourteenth century. 

Giotto's dominating influence upon the art of his century is 
due partly to the fact that he was a builder as well as a painter, 
and also designed reliefs for sculpture. This practicing of 
several different arts by the same artist was one of the striking 
features of the Renaissance period. 

125. ^During the fifteenth century, which is known as the 
period of the Early Renaissance, art in Italy developed and 
progressed steadily, surely, and with comparative rapidity, 
toward the glorious heights of achievement which it reached 
in the following century. The traditions of the Middle Ages 
were wholly thrown aside, the lessons of ancient art thoroughly 
learned. As the artists became more complete masters of 
their tools and of all the technical processes of their art, they 
found themselves ever freer to express in their work what 
they saw and felt. 

Florence was the great center of artistic activity during the 
fifteenth century. The greatest sculptors and almost all of 
the most famous painters and architects of the time either 
were natives of Florence or did their best work there. Dur- 
ing the first half of the century sculpture again took the lead. 
The bronze doors of the baptistery at Florence by Ghiberti, 
which were completed about 1450, are among the very best 
products of Renaissance sculpture. Michael Angelo declared 
them worthy to be the doors of paradise. A comparison of 
them with the doors of the cathedral of Pisa, which date from 
the end of the twelfth century, furnishes a striking illustration 

1 In the church of Santa Croce in Florence and in that of St. Francis at Assisi. 

iTwELFTH Century) 


TJic Italian Cities and the Refiaissaiice 


of the change that had taken place. A contemporary of 
Ghiberti, Luca della Robbia (i 400-1 482), is celebrated for 
his beautiful reliefs in glazed baked clay and in marble, of 
which many may be seen in Florence. 
* One of the best known painters of the first half of the 
fifteenth century, Fra^ Angelico, was a monk. His frescoes on 

Relief by Luca della Robbia 

the walls of the monastery of San Marco (and elsewhere) 
reflect a love of beauty and a cheerful piety, in striking con- 
trast to the fiery zeal of Savonarola,^ who, later in the century, 

1 Fra is an abbreviation oi frale, brother, 2 gee below, pp. 361, 363, 364. 


History of Western Europe 


becomes the 
center of 

The church of 
St. Peter. 

Height of 



Da Vinci, 




went forth from this same monastery to denounce the vanities 
of the art-loving Florentines.^ 

126. Florence reached the height of its preeminence as an 
art center during the reign of Lorenzo the Magnificent, who 
was an ardent patron of all the arts. With his death (i492)f 
and the subsequent brief but overwhelming influence of Savona- 
rola, this preeminence passed to Rome, which was fast becom- 
ing one of the great capitals of Europe. The art-loving popes, 
Julius II and Leo X,^ took pains to secure the services of the 
most distinguished artists and architects of the time in the 
building and adornment of St. Peter's and the Vatican, i.e., 
the papal church and palace. 

The idea of the dome as the central feature of a church, 
which appealed so strongly to the architects of the Renais- 
sance, reached its highest realization in rebuilding the ancient 
church of St. Peter. The task was begun in the fifteenth 
century; in 1506 it was taken up by Pope Julius II with his 
usual energy, and it was continued all through the sixteenth 
century and well into the seventeenth, under the direction of 
a succession of the most famous artist-architects of the time, 
including Raphael and Michael Angelo. The plan was changed 
repeatedly, but in its final form the building is a Latin cross 
surmounted by a great dome, one hundred and thirty-eight 
feet in diameter. The dimensions and proportions of this 
greatest of all churches never fail to impress the beholder with 
something like awe. 

During the sixteenth century the art of the Renaissance 
reached its highest development. Among all the great artists of 
this period three stand out in heroic proportions — Leonardo da 
Vinci, Michael Angelo, and Raphael. The first two not only 

1 One of the most celebrated among the other Florentine painters of the period 
was Botticelli. He differs from most of his contemporaries in being at his best in 
easel pictures. His poetic conceptions, the graceful lines of his draperies, and the 
pensive charm of his faces have especially inspired a famous school of English 
painters in our own day — the Preraphaelites. 2 See below, pp. 364, 365. 

TJie Italian Cities aiid the*Renaissaftce 


practiced, but achieved almost equal distinction in, the three 
arts of architecture, sculpture, and painting.^ It is impossible 
to give in a few lines any idea of the beauty and significance 
of the work of these great geniuses. Both Raphael and 
Michael Angelo left behind them so many and such magnifi- 
cent frescoes and paintings, and in the case of Michael 
Angelo statues as well, that it is easy to appreciate their 

^ J!K 

/' "'>, \z:~..~,^:^J) 


i»|>,^«,ii Snjt S>'ff fj^* |y--^*^ 

St. Peter's and the Vatican, Rome 

importance. Leonardo, on the other hand, left but little com- 
pleted work. His influence on the art of his time, which 
was probably greater than that of either of the others, came 
from his many-sidedness, his originality, and his unflagging 
interest in the discovery and application of new methods. 
He was almost more experimenter than artist. 

While Florence could no longer boast of being the art The Venetian 
center of Italy, it still produced great artists, among whom 
1 Leonardo was engineer and inventor as well. 



History of Western Europe 


Painting in 




1577-1640, and 
1607- 1669. 

Van Dyck, 
and his 


Andrea del Sarto may be especially mentioned.^ But the most 
important center of artistic activity outside of Rome in the six- 
teenth century was Venice. The distinguishing characteristic 
of the Venetian pictures is their glowing color. This is strik- 
ingly exemplified in the paintings of Titian, the most famous 
of all the Venetian painters. 

It was natural that artists from the northern countries 
should be attracted by the renown of the Italian masters and, 
after learning all that Italy could teach them, should return 
home to practice their art in their own particular fashion. 
About a century after Giotto's time two Flemish brothers, Van 
Eyck by name, showed that they were not only able to paint 
quite as excellent pictures as the Italians of their day, but 
they also discovered a new way of mixing their colors superior 
to that employed in Italy. Later, when painting had reached 
its height in Italy, Albrecht Diirer and Hans Holbein the 
Younger '-^ in Germany vied with even Raphael and Michael 
Angelo in the mastery of their art. Diirer is especially cele- 
brated for his wonderful woodcuts and copperplate engravings, 
in which field he has perhaps never been excelled.^ 

When, in the seventeenth century, painting had dfeclined 
south of the Alps, Dutch and Flemish masters, — above all, 
Rubens and Rembrandt, — developed a new and admirable 
school of painting. To Van Dyck, another Flemish master, 
we owe many noble portraits of historically important persons.^ 
Spain gave to the world in the seventeenth century a painter 
whom some would rank higher than even the greatest artists of 
Italy, namely, Velasquez (i 599-1 660). His genius, like that of 
Van Dyck, is especially conspicuous in his marvellous portraits. 

1 Compare his Holy Family with the reproduction of one of Giotto's paint- 
ings, in order to realize the great change in art between the fourteenth and 
sixteenth centuries. ^ See his portrait of Erasmus below, p. 382. 

3 For an example of the magnificent bronze work produced in Germany in 
the early sixteenth century, see the statues of Philip the Good and Charles the 
Bold, pp. 300, 301, above. 4 See his portrait of Charles II below, p. 480. 



The Italian Cities and the Renaissajice T,4y 

127. Shortly after the mvention of printing, which promised Geographical 
so much for the diffusion of knowledge, the horizon of western in the Middle 
Europe was further enlarged by a series of remarkable sea 
voyages which led to the exploration of the whole globe. The 
Greeks and Romans knew little about the world beyond 
southern Europe, northern Africa, and western Asia ; and 
much that they knew was forgotten during the Middle Ages. 
The Crusades took many Europeans as far east as Egypt and 
Syria. As early as Dante's time two Venetian merchants, the 
Polo brothers, visited China and were kindly received at 
Pekin by the emperor of the Mongols. On a second journey 
they were accompanied by Marco Polo, the son of one of the Marco Poio. 
brothers. When they got safely back to Venice in 1295, after 
a journey of twenty years, Marco gave an account of his expe- 
riences which filled his readers with wonder. Nothing stimu- 
lated the interest of the West more than his fabulous description 
of the golden island of Zipangu (Japan) and of the spice 
markets of the Moluccas and Ceylon.^ 

About the year 1318 Venice and Genoa opened up direct The dis- 
coveries of 
communication by sea with the towns of the Netherlands.'' thePortu- 

guese in the 
Their fleets, which touched at the port of Lisbon, aroused the fourteenth 

^ and fifteenth 

commercial enterprise of the Portuguese, who soon began to centuries. 

undertake extended maritime expeditions. By the middle of 
the fourteenth century they had discovered the Canary Islands, 
Madeira, and the Azores. Before this time no one had ven- 
tured along the coast of Africa beyond the arid region of 
Sahara. The country was forbidding, there were no ports, 
and mariners were, moreover, hindered in their progress by the 

1 Marco Polo's travels can easily be had in English , for example, in T/ie 
Story of Marco Polo, by Noah Brooks, Century Company, 1898. A certain 
Franciscan monk, William of Rubruk, visited the far East somewhat earlier 
than the Polo brothers. The account of his journey, as well as the experiences of 
other mediaeval travelers, may be found in The Travels of Sir fohn Mandcville, 
published by The Macmillan Company, 1900. 

2 See map above, pp. 242-243. 


History of Western Europt 

The spice 

of spices in 

general belief that the torrid region was uninhabitable. In 
1445, however, some adventurous sailors came within sight of 
a headland beyond the desert and, struck by its luxuriant 
growth of tropical trees, they called it Cape Verde (the green 
cape). Its discovery put an end once for all to the idea that 
there were only parched deserts to the south. 

For a generation longer the Portuguese continued to venture 
farther and farther along the coast, in the hope of finding it 
coming to an end, so that they might make their way by sea 
to India. At last, in i486, Diaz rounded the Cape of Good 
Hope. Twelve years later (1498) Vasco da Gama, spurred on 
by Columbus' great discovery, after sailing around the Cape of 
Good Hope and northward beyond Zanzibar, steered straight 
across the Indian Ocean and reached Calicut, in Hindustan, 
by sea. 

These adventurers were looked upon with natural suspicion 
by the Mohammedan spice merchants, who knew very well 
that their object was to establish a direct trade between the 
spice islands and western Europe. Hitherto the Mohamme- 
dans had had the monopoly of the spice trade between the 
Moluccas and the eastern ports of the Mediterranean, where 
the products were handed over to Italian merchants. The 
Mohammedans were unable, however, to prevent the Portu- 
guese from concluding treaties with the Indian princes and 
estabhshing trading stations at Goa and elsewhere. In 15 12 
a successor of Vasco da Gama reached Java and the Moluccas, 
where the Portuguese speedily built a fortress. By 15 15 
Portugal had become the greatest among maritime powers ; 
and spices reached Lisbon regularly without the intervention of 
the Italian towns, which were mortally afilicted by the change. 

There is no doubt that the desire to obtain spices was the 
main reason for the exploration of the globe. This motive led 
European navigators to try in succession every possible way to 
reach the East — by going around Africa, by sailing west in the 



History of Western Europe 

Idea of 
the spice 
islands by 


hope of reaching the Indies, before they knew of the existence 
of America ; then, after America was discovered, by sailing 
around it to the north or south, and even sailing around 
Europe to the north. It is hard for us to understand this 
enthusiasm for spices, for which we care much less nowadays. 
One former use of spices was to preserve food, which could 
not then as now be carried rapidly, while still fresh, from place 
to place ; nor did our conveniences then exist for keeping it by 
the use of ice. Moreover, spice served to make even spoiled 
food more palatable than it would otherwise have been. 

It inevitably occurred to thoughtful men that the East Indies 
could be reached by sailing westward. The chief authority 
upon the form and size of the earth was still the ancient 
astronomer, Ptolemy, who lived about a.d. 150. He had 
reckoned the earth to be about one sixth smaller than it is ; 
and as Marco Polo had given an exaggerated idea of the 
distance which he and his companions had traveled eastward, 
it was supposed that it could not be a very long journey from 
Europe across the Atlantic to Japan. 

The first plan for sailing west was, perhaps, submitted to the 
Portuguese king in 1474, by ToscanelH, a Florentine physi- 
cian. In 1492, as we all know, a Genoese navigator, Colum- 
bus (b. 145 1 ), who had had much experience on the sea, got 
together three little ships and undertook the journey westward 
to Zipangu, which he hoped to reach in five weeks. After 
thirty-two days from the time he left the Canary Islands he 
came upon land, the island of San Salvador, and beheved him- 
self to be in the East Indies. Going on from there he discovered 
the island of Cuba, which he believed to be the mainland of Asia, 
and then Haiti, which he mistook for the longed-for Zipangu. 
Although he made three later expeditions and sailed down the 
coast of South America as far as the Orinoco, he died without 
realizing that he had not been exploring the coast of Asia.^ 

1 Reference, Caynbridge Moderji History, Chapter I. 

The Italian Cities and the Rejiaissance 351 

After the bold enterprises of Vasco da Gama and Colum- Magellan's 

bus, an expedition headed by Magellan succeeded in circum- around the 

navigating the globe. There was now no reason why the new 
lands should not become more and more familiar to the Euro- 
pean nations. The coast of North America was explored 
principally by English navigators, who for over a century 
pressed north, still in the vain hope of finding a northwest 
passage to the spice islands. 

Cortez began the Spanish conquests in the western world by The Spanish 
11- , 1- • ri» --Tv^- conquests in 

undertaking the subjugation 01 the Aztec empire in Mexico America. 

in 15 19. A few years later Pizarro established the Spanish 
power in Peru. It is hardly necessary to say that Europeans 
exhibited an utter disregard for the rights of the people with 
whom they came in contact, and treated them with con- 
temptuous cruelty. Spain now superseded Portugal as a 
maritime power and her importance in the sixteenth century 
is to be attributed largely to the wealth which came to her 
from her possessions in the New World, 

By the end of the century the Spanish main — i.e., the The Spanish 

northern coast of South America — was much frequented by 

adventurous seamen, who combined in about equal parts the 

occupations of merchant, slaver, and pirate. Many of these 

hailed from English ports, and it is to them that England owes 

the beginning of her commercial greatness.^ 

128. While Columbus and the Portuguese navigators were Copernicus 

bringing hitherto unknown regions of the earth to the knowl- discovers 

J r T- T^ V 1 T^ -1 / 1 that the 

edge of Europe, a Polish astronomer, Kopermk (commonly earth is not 

1 t, 1 • T . • 1 ^ • N 1 • / the center 

known by his Latinized name, Copernicus), was reaching the of the 

, . , , . . , , , . , , . universe, 

conclusion that the ancient writers had been misled m sup- 
posing that the earth was the center of the universe. He 

1 Reference, Cambridge Modern History^ Chapter II. Kingsley has described 
these mariners in his Weshvard Ho. He derives his notions of them from the 
collection of voyages made by an English geographer, Hakluyt (died 1616). 
Some of these are published by Payne, Voyages of Elizabethan Seamen 
(Clarendon Press, 2 vols., ^1.25 each). 


History of Western Europe 

ous inven- 

The four- 
teenth and 
centuries not 
merely a 
period of 

discovered that, with the other planets, the earth revolved 
about the sun. This opened the way to an entirely new 
conception of the heavenly bodies and their motions, which 
has formed the basis of modern astronomy. 

It was naturally a great shock to men to have it suggested 
that their dwelling place, instead of being God's greatest work 
to which He had subordinated everything, was but a tiny speck 
in comparison to the whole universe, and its sun but one of an 
innumerable host of similar bodies, each of which might have 
its particular family of planets revolving about it. Theolo- 
gians, both Protestant and Catholic, declared the statements of 
Copernicus fooHsh and wicked and contrary to the teachings 
of the Bible. He was prudent enough to defer the pubHcation 
of his great work until just before his death ; he thus escaped any 
persecution to which his discovery might have subjected him. 

In addition to the various forms of progress of which we 
have spoken, the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries witnessed 
the invention or wide application of a considerable number 
of practical devices which were unknown to the Greeks and 
Romans. Examples of these are, besides printing, the com- 
pass, gunpowder, spectacles, and a method of not merely soften- 
ing but of thoroughly melting iron so that it could be cast. 

The period of which we have been speaking was, in short, by 
no means merely distinguished for the revival of classical learn- 
ing. It was not simply a re-birth of the ancient knowledge and 
art, but a time during which Europe laid the foundations for a 
development essentially different from that of the ancient world 
and for achievements undreamed of by Aristotle or Pliny. 

General Reading. — The culture of Italy during the fourteenth and 
fifteenth centuries is best treated by Burckhardt, The Civilization of 
the Renaissance in Italy (The Macmillan Company, $4.00). This is 
especially adapted for the rather advanced student. The towns are 
interestingly described in Symonds, Age of Despots (Scribner's Sons, 
$2.06). For Florence and the Medici, see Armstrong, Lorenzo de^ 

The Italian Cities and the 'Renaissame 353 

Medici and Florence in the Fifteenth Century (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 
;^i.5o), Machiavelli's Prince may be had in translation (Clarendon 
Press, $i.\6). The best prose translation of Dante's Divine Comedy 
is that of Charles Eliot Norton (Houghton, Mifflin & Co., 3 vols., ^4.50). 
In Robinson and Rolfe, Petrarch the First Modern Scholar and Man 
of Letters (G. P. Putnam's Sons, ^2.00), the reader will find much material 
to illustrate the beginnings of humanism. The volume consists mainly 
of Petrarch's own letters to his friends. The introduction gives a much 
fuller account of. his work than it was possible to include in the present 
volume. For similar material from other writers of the time, see Whit- 
comb, A Literary Source Book of the Italian Renaissance (Philadelphia, 
$1.00). The autobiography of Benvenuto Cellini is a very amusing and 
instructive book by one of the well-known artists of the sixteenth 
century. Roscoe's translation in the Bohn series (The Macmillan 
Company, ^i.oo) is to be recommended for school libraries. 

The greatest of the sources for the lives of the artists is Vasari, 
Lives of Seventy of the Most Eminent Painters, Sculptors, and Architects. 
This may be had in the Temple Classics (The Macmillan Company, 
8 vols., 50 cents each) or a selection of the more important lives admir- 
ably edited in Blashfield and Hopkins' carefully annotated edition 
(Scribner's Sons, 4 vols., ^8.00). Vasari was a contemporary of Michael 
Angelo and Cellini, and whites in a simple and charming style. The 
outlines of the history of the various branches of art, with ample 
bibliographies, are given in the " College Histories of Art," edited 
by John C. Van Dyke ; viz.. Van Dyke, The History of Paintiftg, 
Hamlin, The History of Architecture, and Marquand and Frothing- 
HAM, The History of Sculpture (Longmans, Green & Co., each j^2.oo). 
Larger works with more illustrations, which might be found in any good 
town library are : Fergusson, History of Modern Architecture, LiJBKE, 
History of Sculpture, Woltmann and Woermann, History of Painting, 
and Fletcher, A History of Architecture. Two companies publish 
very inexpensive reproductions of works of art : the so-called Perry 
pictures at a cent apiece, and the still better Cosmos pictures (Cosmos 
Picture Company, New York), costing somewhat more. 

For the invention of printing see De Vinne, The Invention of Print- 
ing, unfortunately out of print, and Blades, Pentateuch of Printing 
(London, ^4.75). Also Putnam, Books and their Makers during the 
Middle Ages, Vol. I (G. P. Putnam's Sons, ^^2.50). 



129. Two events took place in the early sixteenth century 
which fundamentally influenced the history of Europe, (i) By 
a series of royal marriages a great part of western Europe was 
brought under the control of a single ruler, Emperor Charles V. 
He inherited Burgundy, Spain, portions of Italy, and the Aus- 
trian territories ; and, in 15 19, he was chosen emperor. There 
had been no such dominion as his in Europe since the time of 
Charlemagne. Within its bounds lay Vienna, Brussels, Madrid, 
Palermo, Naples, Milan, even the city of Mexico. Its crea- 
tion and the struggles which accompanied its dissolution form 
one of the most important chapters in the history of modern 
Europe. (2) Just at the time that Charles was assuming the 
responsibilities that his vast domains brought with them, the 
first successful revolt against the mediaeval Church was begin- 
ning. This was to result in the disruption of the Church and 
the establishment of two great religious parties, the Catholic 
and the Protestant, which have endured down to the present 
time. The purpose of the present chapter is to describe the 
origin, extent, and character of the empire of Charles V, and 
to prepare the reader to grasp the political import of the 
Protestant revolt. 

Before mentioning the family alliances which led to the con- 
solidation of such tremendous political power in the hands of 
one person, it will be necessary, first, to note the rise of the 
house of Hapsburg to which Charles belonged, and secondly, 
to account for the appearance in European affairs of Spain, 
which has hitherto scarcely come into our story, 


Europe at the Opening of tJie Sixteenth Ceiitury 355 

The German kings had failed to create a strong kingdom Reasons why 
. . the German 

such as those over which Louis XI of France and Henry VII kings failed 

to establish 
of England ruled. Their fine title of " emperor " had made them a strong 

a great deal of trouble, as we have seen.^ Their attempts 
to keep Italy as well as Germany under their rule, and the 
alliance of the mighty Bishop of Rome with their enemies had 
well-nigh ruined them. Their position was further weakened 
by their failure to render their office strictly hereditary. 
Although the emperors were often succeeded by their sons, 
each new emperor had to be elected, and those great vassals 
who controlled the election naturally took care to bind the 
candidate by solemn promises not to interfere with their priv- 
ileges and independence. The result was that, after the down- 
fall of the Hohenstaufens, Germany fell apart into a great 
number of practically independent states, of which none were 
very large and some were extremely small. 

After an interregnum, Rudolf of Hapsburg had been chosen Rudolf of 
emperor in 1273.^ The original seat of the Hapsburgs, who getsposses- 

1-11 • T^ rr • • Sion of 

were destined to play a great part m European anairs, was in Austria, 
northern Switzerland, where the vestiges of their original castle 
may still be seen. Rudolf was the first prominent member of 
the family ; he established its position and influence by seiz- 
ing the duchies of Austria and Styria, which were to become, 
under his successors, the nucleus of the extensive Austrian 

About a century and a half after the death of Rudolf the The imperial 
11 111 1 1 r title becomes 

electors began regularly to choose as emperor the ruler 01 practically 

the Austrian possessions, so that the imperial title became, to in the house 

all intents and purposes, hereditary in the Hapsburg Hne.^ The 

Hapsburgs were, however, far more interested in adding to 

1 See above, pp. 85, 151 sq.^ and Chapters XIII-XIV. 

2 Rudolf, like many of his successors, was strictly speaking only king of the 
Romans, since he was never crowned emperor at Rome. See above, pp. 152 n., 185. 

8 From 1438 to 1806 only two emperors belonged to another family than the 

tionin Spain. 

356 History of Western Eiu^ope 

their family domains than in advancing the interests of the now 
almost defunct Holy Roman Empire. This, in the memor- 
able words of Voltaire, had ceased to be either holy, or Roman, 
or an empire. 
Maximilian I, Maximilian I, who was emperor at the opening of the six- 
extends the teenth century, was absorbed in his foreign enterprises rather 
power of the , . , / ^ , ^ 

Hapsburgs than m the improvement of the German government. Like 
over the , ^ . 

Netherlands so many of his predecessors, he was especially anxious to get 

possession of northern Italy. By his marriage with the daughter 
of Charles the Bold he brought the Netherlands into what proved 
a fateful union with Austria.^ Still more important was the 
extension of the power of the Hapsburgs over Spain, a country 
which had hitherto had almost no connection with Germany. 
Arab civiiiza- 130. The Mohammedan conquest served to make the his- 
tory of Spain very different from that of the other states of 
Europe. One of its first and most important results was the 
conversion of a great part of the inhabitants to Moham- 
medanism.^ During the tenth century, which was so dark a 
period in the rest of Europe, the Arab civilization in Spain 
reached its highest development. The various elements in 
the population, Roman, Gothic, Arab, and Berber, appear to 
have been thoroughly amalgamated. Agriculture, industry, 
commerce, art, and the sciences made rapid progress. Cor- 
dova, with its half million of inhabitants, its stately palaces,- 
its university, its three thousand mosques and three hundred 
public baths, was perhaps unrivaled at that period in the 
whole world. There were thousands of students at the uni- 
versity of Cordova at a time when, in the North, only clergy- 
men had mastered even the simple arts of reading and writing. 
This brilliant civilization lasted, however, for hardly more than 
a hundred years. By the middle of the eleventh century the 
caliphate of Cordova had fallen to pieces, and shortly after- 
wards the country was overrun by new invaders from Africa. 
1 See above, p. 301. 2 See above, p. 71. 

Europe at the Opening of the Sixteenth Century 357 

Meanwhile the vestiges of the earlier Christian rule continued The rise of 
to exist in the mountain fastnesses of northern Spain. Even tian king-' 
as early as the year 1000,^ several small Christian kingdoms Spain. 
— Castile, Aragon, and Navarre — had come into existence. 
Castile, in particular, began to push back the demoralized 
Arabs and, in 1085, reconquered Toledo from them. Aragon 
also widened its bounds by incorporating Barcelona and con- 
quering the territory watered by the Ebro. By 1250, the long 
war of the Christians against the Mohammedans, which fills 
the mediaeval annals of Spain, had been so successfully prose- 
cuted that Castile extended to the south coast and included 
the great towns of Cordova and Seville. The kingdom of 
Portugal was already as large as it is to-day. 

The Moors, as the Spanish Mohammedans were called, main- Granada and 

tained themselves for two centuries more in the mountainous 

kingdom of Granada, in the southern part of the peninsula. Dur- 
ing this period, Castile, which was the largest of the Spanish king- 
doms and embraced all the central part of the peninsula, was too 
much occupied by internal feuds and struggles over the crown to 
wage successful war against the Moorish kingdom to the south. 

The first Spanish monarch whose name need be mentioned Marriage of 
here was Queen Isabella of Castile, who, in 1469, concluded castiieand 
an all-important marriage with Ferdinand, the heir of the of Aragon. 
crown of Aragon. It is with the resulting union of Castile 
and Aragon that the great importance of Spain in European 
history begins. For the next hundred years Spain was to 
enjoy more military power than any other European state. 
Ferdinand and Isabella undertook to complete the conquest 
of the peninsula, and in 1492, after a long siege, the city of Granada, the 
Granada fell into their hands, and therewith the last vestige of stronghold, 
Moorish domination disappeared.^ 

1 See map above, following p. 152. 

2 No one can gaze upon the great castle and palace of the Alhambra, which 
was built for the Moorish kings, without realizing what a high degree of culture 


History of Wester7i Europe 

income from 
the New 
World enables 
her to become 
a European 

of the Jews 
and Moors. 

The revival 
of the Inqui- 

Heritage of 
Charles V, 

In the same year that the conquest of the peninsula was com- 
pleted, the discoveries of Columbus, made under the auspices 
of Queen Isabella, opened up the sources of undreamed-of 
wealth beyond the seas. The transient greatness of Spain in 
the sixteenth century is largely to be attributed to the riches 
which poured in from her American possessions. The shame- 
less and cruel looting of the Mexican and Peruvian cities by 
Cbrtez and Pizarro, and the products of the silver mines of 
the New World, enabled Spain to assume, for a time, a position 
in Europe which her internal strength and normal resources 
would never have permitted. 

Unfortunately, the most industrious, skillful, and thrifty 
among the inhabitants of Spain, i.e.. the Moors and the Jews, 
who well-nigh supported the whole kingdom with the products 
of their toil, were bitterly persecuted by the Christians. So 
anxious was Isabella to rid her kingdom of the infidels that she 
revived the court of the Inquisition.^ For several decades its 
tribunals arrested and condemned innumerable persons who 
were suspected of heresy, and thousands were burned at the 
stake during this period. These wholesale executions have 
served to associate Spain especially with the horrors of the 
Inquisition. Finally, in 1609, the Moors were driven out of 
the country altogether. The persecution diminished or dis- 
heartened the most useful and enterprising portion of the Spanish 
people, and speedily and permanently crippled a country which 
in the sixteenth century was granted an unrivaled opportunity 
to become a flourishing and powerful monarchy. 

Maximilian, the German emperor, was not satisfied with 
securing Burgundy for his house by his marriage with the 
daughter of Charles the Bold. He also arranged a marriage 
between their son, Phihp, and Joanna, the daughter of Ferdinand 

the Moors had attained. Its beautiful and impressive arcades, its magnificent 
courts, and the delicate tracery of its arches represent the highest achievement 
of Arabic architecture. i See above, pp. 224-225. 

Europe at the Opening of the Sixteenth Century 359 

and Isabella. Philip died in 1506, and his poor wife, Joanna, 
became insane with grief and was thus incapacitated for ruling. 
So their eldest son, Charles, could look forward to an unprece- 
dented accumulation of glorious titles as soon as his grand- 
fathers, Maximilian and Ferdinand, should pass away.^ He 
was soon to be duke of Brabant, margrave of Antwerp, count 
of Holland, archduke of Austria, count of Tyrol, king of 
Castile, Aragon, and Naples, and of the vast Spanish pos- 
sessions in America, — to mention a few of his more 
important titles. 

Ferdinand died in 15 16, and Charles, now a lad of sixteen, Charles and 
who had been born and reared in the Netherlands, was much possessions, 
bewildered when he landed in his Spanish dominions. His 
Flemish advisers were distasteful to the haughty Spaniards ; 
suspicion and opposition'* awaited him in each of his several 
Spanish kingdoms, for he found by no means a united Spain. 
Each kingdom demanded special recognition of its rights and 
suggested important reforms before it would acknowledge 
Charles as its king. 

It seemed as if the boy would have his hands full in assert- Charles 

ing his authority as *' king of Spain " ; nevertheless, a still emperor, 

more imposing title and still more perplexing responsibilities 

were to fall upon his shoulders before he was twenty years old. 

It had long been Maximilian's ambition that his grandson 

should succeed him upon the imperial throne. After his death 

in 15 19 the electors finally chose Charles instead of the rival 

1 Austria Burgundy Castile Aragon Naples, etc. 


Maximilian I = Mary (d. 1482), Isabella = Ferdinand (d. 1516) 

(d. 1519) I dau. of Charles (d. 1504) I 

I the Bold (d. 1477) | 

Philip (d. 1506) — —- Joanna the Insane (d, 1555) 



Charles V (d. 1558) Ferdinand (d. 1564) = Anna, heiress to kingdoms 

Emperor, 1519-1556 Emperor, 1556-1564 of Bohemia and Hungary 


History of Western Europe 

Charles VIII 
of France 

Charles V 

candidate, Francis I of France. By this election the king of 
Spain, who had not yet been in Germany and who never 
learned its language, became its ruler at a critical juncture, 

when the teachings of Luther were 
producing unprecedented dissen- 
sion and political distraction. We 
shall hereafter refer to him by his 
imperial title of Charles V. 

131. In order to understand the 
Europe of Charles V and the con- 
stant wars which occupied him all 
his life, we must turn back and 
review the questions which had 
been engaging the attention of his 
fellow-kfngs before he came to the 
throne. It is particularly necessary 
to see clearly how Italy had suddenly become the center of 
commotion, — the battlefield for Spain, France, and Germany. 
Charles VIII of France (1483-1498) possessed Httle of the 
practical sagacity of his father, Louis XI. He dreamed of a 
mighty expedition against the Turks and of the conquest of 
Constantinople. As the first step he determined to lead an 
army into Italy and assert his claim, inherited from his father, 
to the kingdom of Naples, which was in the hands of the 
house of Aragon.^ While Italy had everything to lose by per- 
mitting a powerful monarch to get a foothold in the South, there 

1 It will be remembered that the popes, in their long struggle with Frederick II 
and the Hohenstaufens, finally called in Charles of Anjou, the brother of St. Louis, 
and gave to him both Naples and Sicily. See above, p. 185. Sicily revolted in 
1282 and was united with the kingdom of Aragon, which still held it when 
Charles V came to the Spanish throne. The older branch of the house of Anjou 
died out in 1435 and Naples was conquered by the king of Aragon, and was still in 
his family when Charles VIII undertook his Italian expedition. The younger 
branch of the house of Anjou had never reigned in Naples, but its members were 
careful to retain their asserted title to it, and, upon the death of their last repre- 
sentative, this title was transferred to Louis XI. He, however, prudently refused 
to attempt to oust the Aragonese usurpers, as he had quite enough to do at home. 

Europe at the Opening of the Sixteenth Century 361 

was no probability that the various little states into which the 

peninsula was divided would lay aside their perpetual animosities 

and combine against the invader. On the contrary, Charles 

VIII was urged by some of the ItaHans themselves to come. 

Had Lorenzo the Magnificent still been alive, he might have Savonarola 

and Charles 
organized a league to oppose the French king, but he had viii. 

died in 1492, two years before Charles started. Lorenzo's 
sons failed to maintain the influence over the people of 
Florence which their father had enjoyed ; and the leadership 
of the city fell into the hands of the Dominican friar, Savona- 
rola, whose fervid preaching attracted and held for a time the 
attention of the fickle Florentine populace. He beheved himself 
to be a prophet, and proclaimed that God was about to scourge 
Italy for its iniquities, and that men should flee before His 
wrath by renouncing their lives of sin and pleasure. 

When Savonarola heard of the French invasion, it appeared 
to him that this was indeed the looked-for scourge of God, 
which might afflict, but would also purify, the Church. His 
prophecies seemed to be fulfilled, and his listeners were stricken 
with terror. As Charles approached Florence, the people rose 
in revolt against the Medici, sacked their palaces, and drove 
out the three sons of Lorenzo. Savonarola became the chief 
figure in the new republic which was established. Charles 
was admitted into Florence, but his ugly, insignificant figure 
disappointed the Florentines. They soon made it clear to 
him that they would not regard him in any sense as a con- 
queror, and would oppose a prolonged occupation by the 
French. Savonarola said to him : " The people are afflicted 
by your stay in Florence, and you waste your time. God 
has called you to renew His Church. Go forth to your high 
calling lest God visit you in His wrath and choose another 
instrument in your stead to carry out His designs." So, after 
a week's stay, the French army left Florence and proceeded 
on its southward journey. 

3^2 Histoiy of Western Europe 

The popes The next power with which Charles VIII had to deal was 

since the ^ i • r i 

Great Schism, represented by a person in every way the opposite of the 

Dominican monk — Pope Alexander VI. After the troubles of 
the Great Schism and the councils, the popes had set to work 
to organize their possessions in central Italy into a compact 
principality. For a time they seemed to be little more than 
Italian princes. But they did not make rapid progress in their 
poHtical enterprises because, in the first place, they were usually 
advanced in years before they came to power and so had little 
time to carry out their projects ; and, in the second place, they 
showed too much anxiety to promote the interests of their rela- 
tives. The selfish, unscrupulous means employed by these worldly 
prelates naturally brought great discredit upon the Church. 

Pope Alex- There was probably never a more openly profligate Italian 

ander VI ^ ■' l ^ ^ <j 

and Caesar despot than Alexander VI (1493-1503) of the notorious 

Spanish house of Borgia. He frankly set to work to advance 
the interests of his children, as if he were merely a secular 
ruler. For one of his sons, Caesar Borgia, he proposed to 
form a duchy east of Florence. Caesar outdid his father in 
crime. He not only entrapped and mercilessly slaughtered 
his enemies, but had his brother assassinated and thrown 
into the Tiber. Both he and his father were accused of con- 
stant recourse to poisoning, in which art they were popularly 
supposed to have gained extraordinary proficiency. It is note- 
worthy that when MachiavelH prepared his Frince^ he chose for 
his hero Caesar Borgia, as possessing in the highest degree those 
qualities which went to make up a successful Italian ruler. 

The pope was greatly perturbed by the French invasion, 
and in spite of the fact that he was the head of Christen- 
dom, he entered into negotiations with the Turkish sultan in 
the hope of gaining aid against the French king. He could 
not, however, prevent Charles from entering Rome and later 
continuing on his way to Naples. 

1 See above, p. 327. 

Europe at the Opening of the Sixteenth Century 363 

The success of the French king seemed marvelous, for even Charles viii 
Naples speedily fell into his hands. But he and his troops unc^nque^ed. 
were demoralized by the wines and other pleasures of the 
South, and meanwhile his enemies at last began to form a 
combination against him. Ferdinand of Aragon was fearful 
lest he might lose Sicily, and Maximilian objected to having 
the French control Italy. Charles' situation became so pre- 
carious that he may well have thought himself fortunate, at 
the close of 1495, to escape, with the loss of only a single 
battle, from the country he had hoped to conquer. 

The results of Charles' expedition appear at first sight Results of 
trivial ; in reality they were momentous. In the first place, it expedUion. 
was now clear to Europe that the Italians had no real national 
feeling, however much they might despise the " barbarians " 
who lived north of the Alps. From this time down to the 
latter half of the nineteenth century, Italy was dominated by 
foreign nations, especially Spain and Austria. In the second 
place, the French learned to admire the art and culture of 
Italy. The nobles began to change their feudal castles, which 
since the invention of gunpowder were no longer impregnable, 
into luxurious country houses. The new scholarship of Italy 
took root and flourished not only in France, but in England 
and Germany as well. Consequently, just as Italy was becom- 
ing, politically, the victim of foreign aggressions, it was also 
losing, never to regain, that intellectual preeminence which it 
had enjoyed since the revival of interest in classical literature. 

After Charles VIII's departure, Savonarola continued his Savonarola's 
reformation with the hope of making Florence a model state Florence? 
which should lead to the regeneration of the world. At first 
he carried all before him, and at the Carnival of 1496 there 
were no more of the gorgeous exhibitions and reckless gayety 
which had pleased the people under Lorenzo the Magnificent. 
The next year the people were induced to make a great bon- 
fire, in the spacious square before the City Hall, of all the 


History of Western Europe 

and exe- 
cuted, 1498. 

Louis XII 's 



Julius II. 

"vanities" which stood in the way of a godly life — frivolous 
and immoral books, pictures, jewels, and trinkets. 

Savonarola had enemies, however, even in his own Domini- 
can order, while the Franciscans were naturally jealous of his 
renown and maintained that he was no real prophet. What 
was more serious, Alexander VI was bitterly hostile to the reform- 
ing friar because he urged the Florentines to remain in alliance 
with France. Before long even the people began to lose con- 
fidence in him. He was arrested by the pope's order in 
1497 and condemned as a heretic and despiser of the Holy 
See. He was hung, and his body burned, in the same square 
where the "vanities" had been sacrificed hardly more than a 
twelvemonth before. 

In the same year (1498), the romantic Charles VIII died 
without leaving any male heirs and was succeeded by a distant 
relative, Louis XII, who renewed the Italian adventures of his 
predecessor. As his grandmother was a member of the 
Milanese house of the Visconti, Louis laid claim to Milan as well 
as to Naples. He quickly conquered Milan, and then arranged 
a secret treaty with Ferdinand of Aragon (1500) for the divi- 
sion of the kingdom of Naples between them. It was not 
hard for the combined French and Spanish troops to conquer 
the country, but the two allies soon disagreed, and four years 
later Louis sold his title to Naples for a large sum to Ferdinand. 

132. Pope Julius II, who succeeded the unspeakable Alex- 
ander VI (1503), was hardly more spiritual than his prede- 
cessor. He was a warlike and intrepid old man, who did not 
hesitate on at least one occasion to put on a soldier's armor 
and lead his troops in person. Julius was a Genoese, and har- 
bored an inveterate hatred against Genoa's great commercial 
rival, Venice. The Venetians especially enraged the pope by 
taking possession of some of the towns on the northern border 
of his dominions, and he threatened to reduce their city to a 
fishing village. The Venetian ambassador repHed, "As for 

Europe at the Opening of the Sixteenth Century 365 

you, Holy Father, if you are not more reasonable, we shall 
reduce you to a village priest." 

With the pope's encouragement, the League of Cambray League of 
was formed in 1508 for the express purpose of destroying one agSnS^ 
of the most important Italian states. The Empire, France, ^^^*^^' ^^° " 
Spain, and the pope were to divide between them Venice's 
possessions on the mainland. Maximilian was anxious to gain 
the districts bordering upon Austria, Louis XII to extend the 
boundaries of his new duchy of Milan, while the pope and 
Ferdinand were also to have their appropriate shares. 

Venice was quickly reduced to a few remnants of its Itahan 
domains, but the Venetians hastened to make their peace with 
the pope, who, after receiving their humble submission, gave 
them his forgiveness. In spite of his previous pledges to his 
alHes, the pope now swore to exterminate the " barbarians " 
whom he had so recklessly called in. He formed an alliance 
with Venice and induced the new king of England, Henry VIII, 
to attack the French king. As for Maximilian, the pope declared 
him as " harmless as a newborn babe." This " Holy League " 
against the French led to their loss of Milan and their expul- 
sion from, the Italian peninsula in 15 12, but it in no way put 
an end to the troubles in Italy. m> , 

The bellicose Julius was followed in 15 13 by Leo X, a son Pope Leo x, 
of Lorenzo the Magnificent. Like his father, he loved art and 
literature, but he was apparently utterly without religious feel- 
ings. He was willing that the war should continue, in the 
hope that he might be able to gain a couple of duchies for 
his nephews. 

Louis XII died and left his brilliant cousin and successor, Francis i 
Francis I, to attempt once more to regain Milan. The new 1515-1547.' 
king was but twenty years old, gracious in manner, and chival- 
rous in his ideals of conduct. His proudest title was " the 
gentleman king." Like his contemporaries, Leo X, and Henry 
VIII of England, he patronized the arts, and literature flourished 


History of Western Europe 

Francis I 
in Italy. 

The republic 
of Florence 
becomes the 
grand duchy 
of Tuscany. 

Sources of 




and the 


during his reign. He was not, however, a wise statesman ; he 
was unable to pursue a consistent pohcy, but, as Voltaire says, 
"did everything by fits and starts." 

He opened his reign by a very astonishing victory. He led 
his troops into Italy over a pass which had hitherto been 
regarded as impracticable for cavalry, and defeated the Swiss — 
who were in the pope's pay — at Marignano. He then 
occupied Milan and opened negotiations with Leo X, who 
was glad to make terms with the victorious young king. The 
pope agreed that Francis should retain Milan, and Francis on 
his part acceded to Leo's plan for turning over Florence once 
more to the Medici. This was done, and some years later 
this wonderful republic became the grand duchy of Tuscany, 
governed by a line of petty princes under whom its former 
glories were never renewed.^ 

Friendly relations existed at first between the two young 
sovereigns, Francis I and Charles V, but there were several cir- 
cumstances which led to an almost incessant series of wars 
between them. France was clamped in between the northern 
and southern possessions of Charles, and had at that time no 
natural boundaries. Moreover, there was a standing dispute 
over portions of the Burgundian realms, for both Charles and 
Francis claimed the duchy of Burgundy and the neighboring 
county of Burgundy — commonly called Franche-Comte. Charles 
also believed that, through his grandfather, Maximilian, he was 
entitled to Milan, which the French kings had set their hearts 

1 More important for France than the arrangements mentioned above was the 
so-called Concordat^ or agreement, between Francis and the pope in regard to the 
selection of the French prelates. Francis was given the privilege of appointing 
the archbishops, bishops, and abbots, and in this way it came about that he and 
his successors had many rich offices to grant to their courtiers and favorites. He 
agreed in return that the pope should receive a part of the first year's revenue 
from the more important offices in the Church of France. The pope was, more- 
over, thereafter to be regarded as superior to a council, a doctrine which had been 
denied by the French monarchs since the Council of Basel. The arrangements 
of the Concordat of 1516 were maintained down to the French Revolution. 

Europe at the Openmg of the Sixteenth Century 367 

upon acquiring. For a generation the rivals fought over these 
and other matters, and the wars between Charles and Francis 
were but the prelude to a conflict lasting over two centuries 
between France and the overgrown power of the house of 

In the impending struggle it was natural that both monarchs Henry viii 
should try to gain the aid of the king of England, whose friend- 1509°!^^" ' 
ship was of the greatest importance to each of them, and who 
was by no means loath to take a hand in European affairs. 
Henry VIII had succeeded his father (Henry VII) in 1509 
at the age of eighteen. Like Francis, he was good-looking 
and graceful, and in his early years made a very happy impres- 
sion upon those who came in contact with him. He gained 
much popularity by condemning to death the two men who 
had been most active in extorting the "benevolences" which 
his father had been wont to require of unwilling givers. With 
a small but important class, his learning brought him credit. 
He married, for his first wife, an aunt of Charles V, Catherine 
of Aragon, and chose as his chief adviser Thomas Wolsey, 
whose career and sudden downfall were to be strangely associ- 
ated with. the fate of the unfortunate Spanish princess.-^ 

In 1520 Charles V started for Germany to receive the chariesv 
imperial crown at Aix-la-Chapelle. On his way he landed in Germany. 
England with the purpose of keeping Henry from forming an 
alliance with Francis. He judged the best means to be that 
of freely bribing Wolsey, who had been made a cardinal by 
Leo X, and who was all-powerful with Henry. Charles there- 
fore bestowed on the cardinal a large annuity in addition to 
one which he had granted him somewhat earlier. He then 
set sail for the Netherlands, where he was duly crowned king 
of the Romans. From there he proceeded, for the first time, 
to Germany, where he summoned his first diet at Worms. The 
most important business of the assembly proved to be the 
1 See below, p. 428-429. 

368 History of Western Europe 

consideration of the case of a university professor, Martin 
Luther, who was accused of writing heretical books, and who 
had in reahty begun what proved to be the first successful 
revolt against the seemingly all-powerful mediaeval Church. 

General Reading. — For the Italian wars of Charles VIII and 
Louis XII, Cambridge Modern History (The Macmillan Company, 
^375 per vol.), Vol. I, Chapter IV; Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth 
Century (The Macmillan Company, $1.75), Chapter I; Dyer and Has- 
SALL, Modern Europe (The Macmillan Company, 6 vols., ^2.00 each). 
Vol. I ; Creighton, History of the Papacy (see above, p. 320), Vols. 
IV, V. For Savonarola, Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I, Chapter V; 
Creighton, Vol. IV, Chapter VIII ; Lea, History of the Inquisition 
(see above, p. 232), Vol. Ill, pp. 209-237 ; Symonds, Age of Despots 
(see above, p. 352), Chapter IX; Pastor, History of the Popes (see 
above, p. 320), Vol. V. For Spain, Cambridge Modern History, Vol. I, 
Chapter XL 


I33» By far the most important event in the sixteenth cen- xwounsuc- 
tury and one of the most momentous in the history of the revolts pre- 
western world, was the revolt of a considerable portion of Protestant 
northern and western Europe from the medieval Church. 
There had been but two serious rebellions earher. The first 
of these was that of the Albigenses in southern France in 
the thirteenth century ; this had been fearfully punished, and 
the Inquisition had been established to ferret out and bring 
to trial those who were disloyal to the Church. Then, some 
two centuries later, the Bohemians, under the inspiration of 
Wycliife's writings, had attempted to introduce customs differ- 
ent from those which prevailed elsewhere in the Church. They, 
too, had been forced, after a terrific series of conflicts, once 
more to a<:cept the old system. 

Finally, however, in spite of the great strength and the Luther 
wonderful organization of the Church, it became apparent the church, 
that it was no longer possible to keep all of western Europe ^^^°' 
under the sway of the pope. In the autumn of 1520, Pro- 
fessor Martin Luther called together the students of the Uni- 
versity of Wittenberg, led them outside the town walls, and 
there burned the constitution and statutes of the mediaeval 
Church, i.e., the canon law. In this way he pubHcly pro- 
claimed and illustrated his purpose to repudiate the existing 
Church with many of its doctrines and practices. Its head 
he defied by destroying the papal bull directed against his 



History of Western Europe 

Origin of the 
two great 
parties in 
Europe,— the 
Catholics and 


against the 



implied a 



Other leaders, in Germany, Switzerland, England, and else- 
where, organized separate revolts ; rulers decided to accept 
the teachings of the reformers, and used their power to pro- 
mote the establishment of churches independent of the pope. 
In this way western Europe came to be divided into two great 
religious parties. The majority of its people continued to 
regard the pope as their religious head and to accept the 
institutions under which their forefathers had lived since the 
times of Theodosius. In general, those regions (except Eng- 
land) which had formed a part of the Roman empire remained 
Roman Catholic in their behef. On the other hand, northern 
Germany, a part of Switzerland, England, Scotland, and the 
Scandinavian countries sooner or later rejected the headship 
of the pope and many of the institutions and doctrines of the 
mediaeval Church, and organized new religious institutions. 
The Protestants, as those who seceded from the Church of 
Rome were called, by no means agreed among themselves 
what particular system should replace the old one. They 
were at one, however, in ceasing to obey the pope and in 
proposing to revert to the early Church as their model and 
accepting the Bible as their sole guide.^ 

To revolt against the Church was to inaugurate • a funda- 
mental revolution in many of the habits and customs of the 
people. It was not merely a change of religious belief, for the 
Church permeated every occupation and dominated every 
social interest. For centuries it had directed and largely con- 
trolled education, high and low. Each and every important 
act in the home, in the guild, in the town, was accompanied 
by religious ceremonies. The clergy of the Roman Catholic 
Church had hitherto written most of the books ; they sat in 

1 The Catholic Church, on the other hand, held that certain important teach- 
ings, institutions, and ceremonies, although not expressly mentioned in the Bible, 
were nevertheless sanctioned by " tradition." That is, they had been handed down 
orally from Christ and his apostles as a sacred heritage to the Church, and like 
the Bible were to be received as from God. See Readings, Chapter XXIV. 

Germany before the Protestant Revolt 3 7 1 

the government assemblies, acted as the rulers' most trusted 
ministers, constituted, in short, outside of Italy, the only really 
educated class. Their role and the role of the Church were 
incomparably more important than that of any church which 
exists to-day. 

Just as the mediaeval Church was by no means an exclu- The wars of 
sively religious institution, so the Protestant revolt was by no ^ ^^^°°* 
means simply a religious change, but a social and pohtical one 
as well. The conflicts which the attempt to overthrow this 
institution, or rather social order, brought about were necessa- 
rily terrific. They lasted for more than two centuries and left 
no interest, public or private, social or individual, earthly or 
heavenly, unaffected. Nation rose against nation, kingdom 
against kingdom ; households were divided among themselves ; 
wars and commotion, wrath and desolation, treachery and 
cruelty filled the states of western Europe. 

Our present object is to learn how this successful revolt 
came about, what was its real nature, and why the results were 
what they were. In order to do this, it is necessary to turn to 
the Germany in which Luther lived and see how the nation 
had been prepared to sympathize with his attack on the 

134. To us to-day, Germany means the German Empire, Germany of 
one of the three or four best organized and most powerful of 
the European states. It is a compact federation, somewhat 
like that of the United States, made up of twenty-two mon- 
archies and three little city republics. Each member of the 
union manages its local affairs, but leaves all questions of 
national importance to be settled by the central government 
at Berlin. This federation is, however, of very recent date, 
being scarcely more than thirty years old. 

In the time of Charles V there was no such Germany as this. The ' Ger- 
but only what the French called " the Germanies " ; i.e., two or Se^sfxteenth 
three hundred states, which differed greatly from one another ^^^ ^^' 


History of Western Europe 

The seven 
electors and 
the other 
greater Ger- 
man princes. 

in size and character. One had a duke, another a count at 
its head, while some were ruled over by archbishops, bishops, 
or abbots. There were many cities, like Nuremberg, Augs- 
burg, Frankfort, and Cologne, which were just as independent 
as the great duchies of Bavaria, Wiirtemberg, and Saxony. 
Lastly there were the knights, whose possessions might consist 
of no more than a single strong castle with a wretched village 
lying at its foot. Their trifling territories must, however, be 
called states ; for some of the knights were at that time as 
sovereign and independent as the elector of Brandenburg, who 
was one day to become the king of Prussia, and long after, the 
emperor of Germany. 

As for the emperor, he no longer had any power to control 
his vassals. He could boast of unlimited pretensions and a 
great past, but he had neither money nor soldiers. At the time 
of Luther's birth the poverty-stricken Frederick HI might 
have been seen picking up a free meal at a monastery, or riding 
behind a slow but economical ox team. The real power in Ger- 
many lay in the hands of the more important vassals. First 
and foremost among these were the seven electors, so called 
because, since the thirteenth century, they had enjoyed the 
right to elect the emperor. Three of them were archbishops — 
kings in all but name of considerable territories on the 
Rhine, namely, of the electorates of Mayence, Treves, and 
Cologne.-^ Near them, to the south, was the region ruled over 
by the elector of the Palatinate ; to the northeast were the 
territories of the electors of Brandenburg and of Saxony ; the 
king of Bohemia made the seventh of the group. Beside these 
states, the dominions of other rulers scarcely less important 
than the electors appear on the map. Some of these terri- 
tories, like Wiirtemberg, Bavaria, Hesse, and Baden, are familiar 
to us to-day as members of the present German empire, but 

1 For the origin of these and of the other ecclesiastical states of Germany, see 
above, p. 156. 


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A:B0UT 1550 

^^^gBoundaiy ofEmpire 
r'"! Habsburg.Territories 

I J HohenzoUern Territories 

I 1 Ecclesiastical Territories 

mmm imperial Cities 
10 20 30 40 50 


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Scale ot Miles. 


dg^ -^ ; ^-^ -^gr^t^^g J t^ '\^ 

leaker sburg ^ {>' 


Germany before the Protestant Revolt 


all of them have been much enlarged since the sixteenth 
century by the absorption of the httle states that formerly 
lay within and about them.^ 

The towns, which had grown up since the great economic The towns, 
revolution that had brought in commerce and the use of money 
in the thirteenth century, were centers of culture in % 

the north of Europe, - ■. -:- — S^- - 

just as those of Italy 
were in the south. 
Nuremberg, the most 
beautiful of the Ger- 
man cities, still pos- 
sesses a great part of 
the extraordinary 
buildings and works of art which 
it produced in the sixteenth cen- 
tury. Some of the towns held 
directly of the emperor, and were 
consequently independent of the ,. ,-^j-^s '>•' 
particular prince within whose "^ .^^^ftfe^?' 
territory they were situated. ' ''^' 
These were called free, or 
imperial, cities and must be 
reckoned among the states of 

The knights, who ruled over 
the smallest of the German ter- 
ritories, had once formed an important military class, but the The knights, 
invention of gunpowder and of new methods of fighting had 
made their individual prowess of little avail. As their tiny 
realms were often too small to support them, they frequently 
turned to out-and-out robbery for a living. They hated the 


y if 


Wall of the formerly Free Town 
of Rothenburg 

1 The manner in which the numerous and often important ecclesiastical states 
all disappeared in Napoleon's time will become clear later. See below, § 244. 


llistoiy of Western I'^iiropc 

of the map 
ot Germany. 

No central 
power to 

cities because the prosperous burghers were able to live in a 
hixurious comfort whic^h the poor knights envied but could 
not imitate. Tliey hated the princes because these were 
anxious to incori)orate into their own territories the incon- 
venient little districts controlled by the knights, many of 
whom, like the free cities, held directly of the emperor, and 
were consciiuently jiractically independent. 

It would be no easy task to make a map of (icrmany in the 
time of Charles V sufficiently detailed to show all the states and 
scattered fragments of states, if, for example, the accom- 
])anying map were nuich larger and indicated all the divisions, it 
would be seen that the territory of the city of ITlm completely 
surrounded the microscopic ])ossessions of a certain knight, 
the lord of lOybach, and two districts belonging to the abbot 
of l^lchingen. On its borders lay the territories of four 
knights, — the lords of Rechberg, Stotzingen, Erbach, and 
Wiesensteig, — and of the abbots of Solbngen and Wiblingen, 
besides portions of W'iirtemberg and outlying Austrian ih)s- 
sessions. The main cause of this bewildering subdivision of 
Germany was the habit of dealing with a principality as if it 
were merely private property which might be divided up among 
several children, or disposed of ])iecemeal, ([uite regardless of 
the wishes of the inhabitants. 

It is clear that these states, little and big, all tangled up 
with one another, would be sure to have disputes among 
themselves which would have to be settled in some way. It 
would appear to have been absolutely necessary under the 
circumstances that there should be some superior court or 
judge to adjust dilTerences between the many members of 
the empire, as well as a military or })olice force to carry out 
the will of the tribunal, should one of the parties concerned 
resist its decrees. But although there was an imjierial court, 
it followed the emperor about and was therefore hard to get at. 
Moreover, even if a decisii>n was obtained from it, there was 

Germany before the P rotes tajit Revolt 375 

no way for the aggrieved party to secure the execution of the 

judgment, for the emperor had no force sufficient to coerce 

the larger states. The natural result was a resort to self-help. 

Neighborhood war was permitted by law if only some courteous Neighbor- 
.... , T ^ . . hood war. 

prelimmanes were observed, l^or mstance, a prmce or town 

was required to give warning three days in advance before 
attacking another member of the empire.^ "^, 

Toward the end of the fifteenth century the terrible disorder The German 
and uncertainty which resulted from the absence of a strong 
central government led to serious efforts upon the part of the 
diet, or national assembly, to remedy the evils. It was pro- 
posed to establish a court to settle all disputes which should Effort to 

1 ^ ^ r ^ • "rr^i • i better the 

arise between the rulers of the various states. 1 his was to be German 
,11 , • • 1 rr., government, 

held permanently in some convenient place. Ihe empire was 

also to be divided into districts, or "circles," in each of which 
a military force was to be organized and maintained to carry out 
the law and the decisions of the court. Little was accomplished, 
however, for some years, although the diet met more frequently 
and regularly, and this gave an opportunity to discuss public 
questions. The towns began to send delegates to the diet in 
1487, but the restless knights and some of the other minor 
nobles had no part in the deliberations and did not always 
feel that the decisions of the assembly were binding upon them. 
Of the diets which met almost every year during the Lutheran 
period in some one of the great German cities, we shall hear 
more later. 

135. It is natural that Protestant and Catholic writers should Contradiction 


differ in their views of Germany at this period. Among Prot- catholic and 

1 ,11., Protestant 

estants there has always been a tendency to see the dark side writers. 

of affairs, for this exalted the work of Luther and made him 

1 See above, pp. 117 s^g'. For the German law permitting feuds, see Hender- 
son, Historical Documents^ p. 246. In 1467, the German diet ventured to forbid 
neighborhood war for five years. It was not, however, permanently prohibited 
until a generation later. 

3/6 History of Western Europe 

appear the savior of his people. On the other hand, the 
Catholic historians have devoted years of research to an attempt 
to prove that conditions were, on the whole, happy and serene 
and full of hope for the future before Luther and the other 
revolutionary leaders brought division and ruin upon the father- 
land by attacking the Church. 
Correspond- As a matter of fact, the life and thought of Germany during 

ijior coiitrs.— 

dictions in the fifty years preceding the opening of the Protestant revolt 
in Germany, present all sorts of contradictions and anomalies. The period 
was one of marked progress. The people were eager to learn, 
and they rejoiced in the recent invention of printing which 
brought them the new learning from Italy and hints of another 
world beyond the seas. Foreigners who visited Germany were 
astonished at the prosperity, wealth, and luxury of the rich mer- 
chants, who often spent their money in the encouragement of 
art and literature and in the founding of schools and libraries. 
On the other hand, there was great ill feeHng between the 
various classes — the petty princes, the townspeople, the knights, 
and the peasants. It was generally believed by the other 
classes that the wealth of the merchants could only be accounted 
for by deceit, usury, and sharp dealing. Never was begging 
more prevalent, superstition more rife, vulgarity and coarseness 
more apparent. Attempts to reform the government and stop 
neighborhood war met with little success. Moreover, the Turks 
were advancing steadily upon Christendom. The people were 
commanded by the pope to send up a prayer each day as 
the noon bell rang, that God might deliver them from the 
on-coming infidel. 

Yet we need not be astonished by these contradictions, for 
history teaches that all periods of progress are full of them. 
Any newspaper will show how true this is to-day : we are, as a 
nation, good and bad, rich and poor, peaceful and warlike, 
learned and ignorant, satisfied and discontented, civilized and 
barbarous, all at once. 

Germany before the Protestant Revolt 2)77 

In considering the condition of the Church and of reHgion Four impor- 
^ ... . , , . 1 . tant char- 
in Germany, four things are particularly important as explain- acteristics 
. , , r . ^. 1 T^- of the time 
ing the origin and character of the Protestant revolt, rust, which serve 

there was an extraordinary enthusiasm for all the pomp and theProtes- 
ceremony of the old religion, and a great confidence in pilgrim- 
ages, relics, miracles, and all those things which the Protes- 
tants were soon to discard- Secondly, there was a tendency 
to read the Bible and to dwell upon the attitude of the sinner 
toward God, rather than upon the external acts of religion. 
Thirdly, there was a conviction, especially among scholars, that 
the theologians had made reUgion needlessly complicated with 
their fine-spun logical distinctions. And lastly, there was the 
old and very general belief that the Italian prelates, including 
the pope, were always inventing new plans for getting money 
out of the Germans, whom they regarded as a stupid people, 
easily hoodwinked. These four matters we shall consider in 

136. Never had the many ceremonies and observances of the Enthusiasm 
,. , ^, , 1 . , . , for religious 

mediaeval Church attracted more attention or been carried out ceremonies 

on a more prodigious scale than during the latter part of the ances. 
fifteenth, and the opening years of the sixteenth century. It 
seemed as if all Germany agreed to join in one last celebration 
of the old religion, unprecedented in magnificence, before its 
people parted into two irreconcilable parties. Great numbers 
of new churches were erected, and adorned with the richest 
productions of German art. Tens of thousands of pilgrims 
flocked to the various sacred places, and gorgeous ecclesias- 
tical processions moved through the streets of the prosperous 
imperial towns. 

The princes rivaled each other in collecting the rehcs of Relics, 
saints, which were venerated as an aid to salvation. The 
elector of Saxony, Frederick the Wise, who was later to 
become Luther's protector, had accumulated no less than five 
thousand of these sacred objects. In a catalogue of them 

37^ History of Western Europe 

we find the rod of Moses, a bit of the burning bush, thread 
spun by the Virgin, etc. The elector of Mayence possessed 
even a larger collection, which included forty-two whole bodies 
of saints and some of the earth from a field near Damascus 
out of which God was supposed to have created man. 
The treasury It was the teaching of the Church that prayers, fasts, masses, 
works.' pilgrimages, and other "good works" might be accumulated 

and form a treasury of spiritual goods. Those who were want- 
ing in good deeds might, therefore, have their deficiencies off- 
set by the inexhaustible surplus of righteous deeds which had 
been created by Christ and the saints. 

The idea was certainly a beautiful one, that Christians should 
thus be able to help one another by their good works, and that 
the strong and faithful worshiper could aid the weak and indif- 
ferent. Yet the thoughtful teachers in the Church realized that 
the doctrine of the treasury of good works might be gravely 
Popular misunderstood ; and there was certainly a strong inclination 

upon outward among the people to believe that God might be propitiated 
acts.^ by various outward acts -^ attendance at church ceremonies, 

giving of alms, the veneration of relics, the making of pilgrim- 
ages, etc. It was clear that the hope of profiting by the good 
works of others might lead to the neglect of the true welfare 
of the soul. 
Demand 1 37. In spite, however, of the popular confidence in out- 

spiritual ward acts and ceremonies, from which the heart was often absent, 

there were many signs of a general longing for deeper and 
more spiritual religion than that of which we have been speak- 
ing. The new art of printing was used to increase the number 
of religious manuals. These all emphasized the uselessness of 
outward acts without true contrition and sorrow for sin, and 
urged the sinner to rely upon the love and forgiveness of God. 

The Bible in All good Christians were urged, moreover, to read the Bible, 
German be- /- i • i , i /• t • • ^ i • i 

fore Luther, of which there were a number of editions m German, besides 

little books in which portions of the New Testament were 

Germany before the Protestant Revolt 379 

given. There are many indications that the Bible was com- 
monly read before Luther's time.^ 

It was natural, therefore, that the German people should 
take a great interest in the new and better translation of 
the Scriptures which Luther prepared. Preaching had also 
become common — as common perhaps as it is now — before 
the Protestants appeared. Some towns even engaged special 
preachers of known eloquence to address their citizens regu- 

These facts would seem to justify the conclusion that there 
were many before Luther appeared who were approaching the 
ideas of religion which later appealed especially to the Protes- 
tants. The insistence of the Protestants upon salvation through 
faith alone in God, their suspicion of ceremonies and " good 
works," their reliance upon the Bible, and the stress they laid 
upon preaching, — all these were to be found in Germany and 
elsewhere before Luther began to preach. 

138. Among the critics of the churchmen, monks, and The German 
theologians, none were more conspicuous than the humanists. 
The Renaissance in Italy, which may be said to have begun 
with Petrarch and his library, has already been described. 
The Petrarch of Germany was Rudolph Agricola, who, while Rudolph 


not absolutely the first German to dedicate himself to clas- 1442-1485'. 
sical studies, was the first who by his charming personality 
and varied accomplishments stimulated others, as Petrarch 
had done, to carry on the pursuits which he himself so 
much enjoyed. Unlike most of the Italian humanists, how- 
ever, Agricola and his followers were interested in the 
language of the people as well as in Latin and Greek; and 
proposed that the works of antiquity should be translated 

1 For example, in one of the books of instruction for the priest we find that 
he is warned, when he quotes the Bible, to say to the people that he is not trans- 
lating it word for word from the Latin, for otherwise they are likely to go home 
and find a different wording from his in their particular version and then declare 
that the priest had made a mistake. 


History of Western Europe 

The human- 
ists desire to 
reform the 

The human- 
ist satire on 
the monks 
and theo- 
logians, the 
Letters of 
Obscure Men. 

into German. Moreover, the German humanists were generally 
far more serious and devout than the Italian scholars. 

As the humanists increased in numbers and confidence they 
began to criticise the excessive attention given in the Ger- 
man universities ^ to logic and the scholastic theology. These 
studies had lost their earlier vitality ^ and had degenerated into 
fruitless disputations. The bad Latin which the professors used 
themselves and taught their students, and the preference still 
given to Aristotle over all other ancient writers, disgusted 
the humanists. They therefore undertook to prepare new and 
better text-books, and proposed that the study of the Greek 
and Roman poets and orators should be introduced into the 
schools and colleges. Some of the classical scholars were for 
doing away with theology altogether, as a vain, monkish study 
which only obscured the great truths of religion. The old- 
fashioned professors, on their part, naturally denounced the 
new learning, which they declared made pagans of those who 
became enamored of it. Sometimes the humanists were per- 
mitted to teach their favorite subjects in the universities, but as 
time went on it became clear that the old and the new teachers 
could not work amicably side by side. 

At last, a little before Luther's public appearance, a conflict 
occurred between the " poets," as the humanists were fond 
of calling themselves, and the <' barbarians," as they called the 
theologians and monkish writers. An eminent Hebrew scholar, 
Reuchlin, had become involved in a bitter controversy with 
the Dominican professors of the University of Cologne. His 
cause was championed by the humanists, who prepared an 
extraordinary satire upon their opponents. They wrote a 
series of letters, which were addressed to one of the Cologne 

1 Some seventeen universities had been established by German rulers and 
towns in a little over one hundred years. The oldest of them was founded in 
1348 at Prague. Several of these institutions, for example, Leipsic, Vienna, and 
Heidelberg, are still ranked among the leading universities of the world. 

2 See above, § 104. 

Germany before the Protestant Revolt 381 

professors and purported to be from his former students and 
admirers. In these letters the writers take pains to exhibit 
the most shocking ignorance and stupidity. They narrate 
their scandalous doings with the ostensible purpose of obtain- 
ing advice as to the best way to get out of their scrapes. 
They vituperate the humanists in comically bad Latin, which 
is perhaps the best part of the joke.^ In this way those who 
later opposed Luther and his reforms were held up to ridicule 
in these letters and their opposition to progress seemed clearly 
made out. 

139. The acknowledged prince of the humanists was Eras- Erasmus of 
mus. No other man of letters, unless it be Voltaire, has ever i467?-i536.' 
enjoyed such a European reputation during his lifetime. He 
was venerated by scholars far and wide, even in Spain and* 
Italy. Although he was born in Rotterdam he was not a 
Dutchman, but a citizen of the world ; he is, in fact, claimed 
by England, France, and Germany. He lived in each of these 
countries for a considerable period and in each he left his mark 
on the thought of the time. Erasmus, like most of the north- 
ern humanists, was deeply interested in reHgious reform, and he 
aspired to give the world a higher conception of religion and 
the Church than that which generally prevailed. He clearly 
perceived, as did all the other intelligent people of the time, 

1 For examples of these Letters of Obscure Men, see Whitcomb, Source Book of 
the German Renaissance, pp. 67 sq., and Translations and Reprints, Vol. II, 
No. 6. The peculiar name of the satire is due to the fact that Reuchlin's sym- 
pathizers wrote him many letters of encouragement, which he published under 
the title, Letters of Celebrated Men to John Reuchlin. The humanists then 
pitched upon the modest title, Letters of Obscure Men, for the supposed correspond- 
ence of the admirers of the monks. The following is an example of the " obscure 
men's" poetry. One of them goes to Hagenau and meets a certain humanist, 
Wolfgang Angst, who, the writer complains, struck him in the eye with his staff. 

Et ivi hinc ad Hagenau 
Da wurden mir die Augen blau 
Per te, Wolfgang Angst, 
Gott gib das du hangst, 
Quia me cum baculo 
Percusseras in oculo. 


History of Westerjt Ettrope 

edition of 
the New 

the vices of the prelates, priests, and especially of the monks. 
Against the latter he had a personal grudge, for he had been 
forced into a monastery when he was a boy, and always looked 
back to the life there with disgust. Erasmus reached the height 
of his fame just before the public appearance of Luther ; conse- 
quently his writings afford an admirable means of determining 
how he and his innumerable admirers felt about the Church 
and the clergy before the opening of the great revolt. 

Erasmus spent some time in England between the years 
1498 and 1506, and made friends of the scholars there. He 
was especially fond of Sir Thomas More, who wrote the famous 
Utopia, and of a young man, John Colet, who was lectur- 
ing at Oxford upon the Epistles 
of St. Paul.^ Colet's enthusiasm 
for Paul appears to have led Eras- 
mus to direct his vast knowledge 
of the ancient languages to the 
explanation of the New Testa- 
ment. This was only known in 
the common Latin version (the 
Vulgate), into which many mis- 
takes and misapprehensions had 
crept. Erasmus felt that the first 
Portrait of Erasmus by Holbein ^hing to do, in order to promote 

higher ideas of Christianity, was 
to purify the sources of the faith by preparing a correct edition 
of the New Testament. Accordingly, in 1 5 1 6, he published the 
original Greek text with a new Latin translation and explana- 
tions which mercilessly exposed the mistakes of the great body 
of theologians. 

Erasmus would have had the Bible in the hands of every one. 
In the introduction to his edition of the New Testament he 
says that women should read the Gospels and the Epistles of 

1 See below, pp. 426-7. 

Germany before the Protestant Revolt 383 

Paul as well as the men. The peasant in the field, the artisan 

in his shop, and the traveler on the highroad should while 

away the time with passages from the Bible. 

Erasmus believed that the two arch enemies of true religion Erasmus' 
... ^ , , . idea of true 

were (i) paganism, — mto which many of the more enthusi- religion. 

astic Italian humanists fell in their admiration for the ancient 

literatures, — and (2) the popular confidence in mere outward 

acts and ceremonies, like visiting the graves of saints, the 

mechanical repetition of prayers, and so forth. He claimed 

that the Church had become careless and had permitted the 

simple teachings of Christ to be buried under myriads of 

dogmas introduced by the theologians. " The essence of our 

religion," he says, " is peace and harmony. These can only 

exist where there are few dogmas and each individual is left 

to form his own opinion upon many matters." 

In his celebrated Praise of Polly ^ Erasmus has much to say m his Praise 

of Folly 

of the weaknesses of the monks and theologians, and of the fool- Erasmus 

attacks the 
ish people who thought that religion consisted simply in pilgrim- evils in the 

ages, the worship of relics, and the procuring of indulgences. 
Scarcely one of the abuses which Luther later attacked escaped 
Erasmus' satirical pen. The book is a mixture of the lightest 
humor and the bitterest earnestness. As one turns its pages 
one is sometimes tempted to think Luther half right when he 
declared Erasmus " a regular jester who makes sport of every- 
thing, even of religion and Christ himself." Yet there was 
in this humorist a deep seriousness that cannot be ignored. 
Erasmus was really directing his extraordinary industry, knowl- 
edge, and insight, not toward a revival of classical literature, 
but to a renaissance of Christianity. He believed, however, 
that revolt from the pope and the Church would produce a 
great disturbance and result in more harm than good. He 
preferred to trust in the slower but surer effects of enlightenment 

1 This may be had in EngHsh, published by Scribner's Sons (^1.25) or 
Brentano (^1.25). 



History of Western Europe 

Sources of 
discontent in 
with the 
policy of the 
papal court. 

and knowledge. Popular superstitions and any undue regard 
for the outward forms of religion would, he argued, be outgrown 
and quietly disappear as mankind became more cultivated. 

To Erasmus and his many sympathizers, culture, promoted 
especially by classical studies, should be the chief agency in 
religious reform. Nevertheless, just as Erasmus thought that 
his dreams of a peaceful reform were to be realized, as he saw 
the friends and patrons of literature, — Maximilian, Henry 
VIII, Francis I, — on the thrones of Europe, and a humanist 
pope, Leo X, at the head of the Church, a very different revo- 
lution from that which he had planned, had begun and was 
to embitter his declining years. 

140. The grudge of Germany against the papal court never 
found a more eloquent expression than in the verses of its 
greatest minnesinger, Walther von der Vogelweide. Three 
hundred years before Luther's time he declared that the pope 
was making merry over the stupid Germans. " All their goods 
will be mine, their silver is flowing into my far-away chest ; 
their priests are living on poultry and wine and leaving the silly 
layman to fast." Similar sentiments may be found in the 
German writers of all the following generations. Every one 
of the sources of discontent with the financial administration 
of the Church which the councils had tried to correct ^ was 
particularly apparent in Germany. The great German prel- 
ates, like the archbishops of Mayence, Treves, Cologne, and 
Salzburg, were each required to contribute no less than ten 
thousand gold guldens to the papal treasury upon having their 
election duly confirmed by the pope; and many thousands 
more were expected from them when they received the pal- 
lium.^ The pope enjoyed the right to fill many important 
benefices in Germany, and frequently appointed Italians, who 
drew the revenue without dreaming of performing any of the 
duties attached to the office. A single person frequently held 

1 See above, pp. 317-318. 2 See above, p. 203. 

Germany before the Protestant Revolt 385 

several church offices. For example, early in the sixteenth 
century, the Archbishop of Mayence was at the same time 
Archbishop of Magdeburg and Bishop of Halberstadt. In 
some instances a single person had accumulated over a score 
of benefices. 

It is impossible to exaggerate the impression of deep 
and widespread discontent with the condition of the Church 
which one meets in the writings of the early sixteenth century. 
The whole German people, from the rulers down to the 
humblest tiller of the fields, felt themselves unjustly used. 
The clergy were denounced as both immoral and inefficient. 
One devout writer exclaims that young men are considered 
quite good enough to be priests to whom one would not 
intrust the care of a cow. While the begging friars — the 
Franciscans, Dominicans, and Augustinians ^ — were scorned 
by many, they, rather than the secular clergy, appear to have 
carried on the real religious work. It was an Augustinian 
monk, we shall find, who preached the new gospel of justifica- 
tion by faith. 

Very few indeed thought of withdrawing from the Church 
or of attempting to destroy the power of the pope. All that 
most of the Germans wished was that the money which, on 
one pretense or another, flowed toward Rome should be kept 
at home, and that the clergy should be upright, earnest men 
who should conscientiously perform their religious duties. One 
patriotic writer, however, Ulrich von Hutten, was preaching 
something very like revolution at the same time that Luther 
began his attack on the pope. 

Hutten was the son of a poor knight, but early tired of the uirich vcn 
monotonous hfe of the castle and determined to seek the 1488-1523. 
universities and acquaint himself with the ancient literatures, 
of which so much was being said. In order to carry on his 

1 The Augustinian order, to which Luther belonged, was organized in the 
thirteenth century, a little later than the Dominican and the Franciscan. 

386 History of Western Europe 

studies he visited Italy and there formed a most unfavorable 
impression of the papal court and of the Italian churchmen, 
whom he believed to be oppressing his beloved fatherland. 
When the Letters of Obscure Men appeared, he was so 
delighted with them that he prepared a supplementary series 
in which he freely satirized the theologians. Soon he began to 
write in German as well as in Latin, in order the more readily 
to reach the ears of the people. In one of his pamphlets 
attacking the popes he explains that he has himself seen how 
Leo X spends the money which the Germans send him. A 
part goes to his relatives, a part to maintain the luxurious 
papal court, and a part to worthless companions and attend- 
ants, whose lives would shock any honest Christian, 

In Germany, of all the countries of Europe, conditions were 
such that Luther's appearance wrought like an electric shock 
throughout the nation, leaving no class unaffected. Through- . 
out the land there was discontent and a yearning for better- 
ment. Very various, to be sure, were the particular longings of 
the prince and the scholar, of knight, burgher, and peasant ; 
but almost all were ready to consider, at least, the teachings 
of one who presented to them a new conception of salvation 
which made the old Church superfluous. 

General Reading. — The most complete account of the conditions in 
Germany before Luther is to be found in Janssen, History of the Ger- 
man People (Herder, Vols. I and II, ^6.25). Cambridge Modern History 
(The Macmillan Company, ^375 per vol.). Vol. I, Chapters IX and 
XIX; Creighton, History of the Papacy (see above, p. 320), Vol. VI, 
Chapters I and II; and Beard, Martin Luther (P. Green, London, 
^1.60), Chapters I and III, are excellent treatments of the subject. 
For Erasmus, see Emerton's charming Desiderius Erasmus (G. P. 
Putnam's Sons, ^1.50), which gives a considerable number of his letters. 



141. Martin Luther was of peasant oridn. His father was Luther's 
^ 1 birth and 

very poor, and was trying his fortune as a miner near the education. 

Harz Mountains when his eldest son, Martin, was born in 
1483. Martin sometimes spoke, in later life, of the poverty 
and superstition which surrounded him in his childhood ; of 
how his mother carried on her back the wood for the house- 
hold and told him stories of a witch who had made away with 
the village priest. The boy was sent early to school, for his 
father was determined that his eldest son should be a lawyer. 
At eighteen, Martin entered the greatest of the north-German 
universities, at Erfurt, where he spent four years. There he 
became acquainted with some of the young humanists, for 
example, the one who is supposed to have written a great 
part of the Letters of Obscure Men. He was interested in 
the various classical writers, but devoted the usual attention 
to logic and Aristotle. 

Suddenly, when he had completed his college course and Luther 

1 J 1 • r • J decides to 
was ready to enter the law school, he called his friends become a 

•' . . . monk, 

together for one last hour of pleasure, and the next morning 

he led them to the gate of an Augustinian monastery, where 
he bade them farewell and turning his back on the world 
became a mendicant friar. That day, July 17, 1505, when 
the young master of arts, regardless of his father's anger and 
disappointment, sought salvation within the walls of a mon- 
astery, was the beginning of a religious experiment which had 
momentous consequences for the world. 



History of Western Europe 

Luther's dis- 
in the 

by faith, 
not through 

becomes a 
teacher in 
the Univer- 
sity of Wit- 
tenberg, 1508. 

Luther later declared that " if ever a monk got to heaven 
through monkery," he was assuredly among those who merited 
salvation. So great was his ardor, so nervously anxious was 
he to save his soul by the commonly recognized means of 
fasts, vigils, prolonged prayers, and a constant disregard of the 
usual rules of health, that he soon could no longer sleep. He 
fell into despondency, and finally into despair. The ordinary 
observance of the rules of the monastery, which satisfied most 
of the monks, failed to give him peace. He felt that even 
if he outwardly did right he could never purify all his 
thoughts and desires. His experience led him to conclude 
that neither the Church nor the monastery provided any 
device which enabled him to keep his afl^ections always cen- 
tered on what he knew to be holy and right. Therefore they 
seemed to him to fail and to leave him, at heart, a hopelessly 
corrupt sinner, justly under God's condemnation. 

Gradually a new view of Christianity came to him. The head 
of the monastery bade him trust in God's goodness and mercy 
and not to rely upon his own " good works." He began to 
study the writings of St. Paul and of Augustine, and from them 
was led to conclude that man was incapable, in the sight of 
God, of any good works whatsoever, and could only be saved 
by faith in God's promises. This gave him much comfort, but 
it took him years to clarify his ideas and to reach the conclu- 
sion that the existing Church was opposed to the idea of 
justification by faith, because it fostered what seemed to 
him a delusive confidence in "good works." He was thirty- 
seven years old before he finally became convinced that it 
was his duty to become the leader in the destruction of the 
old order. 

It was no new thing for a young monk, suddenly cut off 
from the sunshine and hoping for speedy spiritual peace, to 
suffer disappointment and fall into gloomy forebodings, as 
did Brother Martin. He, however, having fought the battle 

Luther and his Revolt against the Chnrch 389 

through to victory, was soon placed in a position to bring 

comfort to others similarly afflicted with doubts as to their 

power to please God. In 1508 he was called to the new 

university which Frederick the Wise, elector of Saxony, had 

established at Wittenberg. We know little of his early years 

as a professor, but he soon began to lecture on the epistles 

of Paul and to teach his students the doctrine of justification 

by faith. 

Luther had as yet no idea of attacking the Church. When, Luther's 
^ ^ ' visit to 

about 15 1 1, he journeyed to Rome on business of his order, Rome. 

he devoutly visited all the holy places for the good of his 

soul, and was almost tempted to 

wish that his father and mother 

were dead, so that he might free 

them from purgatory by his pious 

observances. Yet he was shocked 

by the impiety of the Italian 

churchmen and the scandalous 

stories about popes Alexander VI 

and Julius II, the latter of whom 

was just then engaged in his warlike 

expeditions into northern Italy. 

The evidences of immorality on 

the part of the popes may well 

have made it easier for him later to reach the conclusion that 

the head of the Church was the chief enemy of rehgion. 

Before long he began to encourage his students to defend Luther 

his favorite beliefs in the debates in which they took part, new kind of 

For instance, one of the candidates for a degree, under 

Luther's inspiration, attacked the old theology against which 

the humanists had been fighting. ** It is an error," he says, 

" to declare that no one can become a theologian without 

Aristotle ; on the contrary, no one can become a theologian 

except it be without him." Luther desired the students to 


390 History of Western Europe 

rely upon the Bible, Paul's writings above all, and upon the 
church fathers, especially Augustine.^ 
Luther's 142. In October, 15 17, Tetzel, a Dominican monk, began 

indulgences, granting indulgences in the neighborhood of Wittenberg, and 
making claims for them which appeared to Luther wholly 
irreconcilable with the deepest truths of Christianity as he 
understood and taught them. He therefore, in accordance 
with the custom of the time, wrote out a series of ninety-five 
statements in regard to indulgences. These he posted on 
the church door and invited any one interested in the matter 
to enter into a discussion with him on the subject, which he 
beHeved was very ill understood. In posting these theses, 
as they were called, Luther did not intend to attack the 
Church, and had no expectation of creating a sensation. 
The theses were in Latin and addressed only to scholars. It 
turned out, however, that every one, high and low, learned and 
unlearned, was ready to discuss the perplexing theme of the 
nature of indulgences. The theses were promptly translated 
into German, printed, and scattered throughout the land. 
The nature of In order to understand the indulgence, it must be remem- 
bered that the priest had the right to forgive the sin of the 
truly contrite sinner who had duly confessed his evil deeds.* 
Absolution freed the sinner from the deadly guilt which would 
otherwise have dragged him down to hell, but it did not free 
him from the penalties which God, or his representative, the 
priest, might choose to impose upon him. Serious penances 
had earlier been imposed by the Church for wrongdoing, but in 
Luther's time the sinner who had been absolved was chiefly 
afraid of the sufferings reserved for him in purgatory. It was 

1 He writes exultingly to a friend : " Our kind of theology reigns supreme in 
the university ; only one who lectures on the Bible, Augustine, or some real 
Church father, can reckon on any listeners; and Aristotle sinks lower and lower 
every day." In this way he sought to discredit Peter Lombard, Aquinas, and all 
the writers who were then most popular in the theological schools. Walker, The 
Reformation, pp. 77-gi- 2 See above, p. 211-212, 


Luther and his Revolt against the CJiiircIi 391 

there that his soul would be purified by suffering and prepared 
for heaven. The indulgence was a pardon, usually granted 
by the pope, through which the contrite sinner escaped a part, 
or all, of the punishment which remained even after he had 
been absolved. The pardon did not therefore forgive the 
guilt of the sinner, for that had necessarily to be removed 
before the indulgence was granted ; it only removed or miti- 
gated the penalties which even the forgiven sinner would, with- 
out the indulgence, have expected to undergo in purgatory.^ 

The first indulgences for the dead had been granted shortly 
before the time of Luther's birth. By securing one of these, 
the relatives or friends of those in purgatory might reduce the 
period of torment which the sufferers had to undergo before 
they could be admitted to heaven. Those who were in purga- 
tory had, of course, been duly absolved of the guilt of their sins 
before their death ; otherwise their souls would have been lost 
and the indulgence could not advantage them in any way. 

With a view of obtaining funds from the Germans to con- Leo x issues 


tinue the reconstruction of the great church of St. Peter,^ in connection 
Leo X had arranged for the extensive grant of indulgences, both Rebuilding of 
for the living and for the dead. The contribution for them 
varied greatly ; the rich were required to pay a considerable 
sum, while the very poor were to receive these pardons gratis. 
The representatives of the pope were naturally anxious to col- 
lect all the money possible, and did their best to induce every 
one to secure an indulgence, either for himself or for his 
deceased friends in purgatory. In their zeal they made many 
reckless claims for the indulgences, to which no thoughtful 
churchman or even layman could listen without misgivings. 

1 It is a common mistake of Protestants to suppose that the indulgence was 
forgiveness granted beforehand for sins to be committed in the future. There is 
absolutely no foundation for this idea. A person proposing to sin could not pos- 
sibly be contrite in the eyes of the Church, and even if he secured an indulgence 
it would, according to the theologians, have been quite worthless. 

2 See above, p. 344, 

St. Peter's. 


History of Western Europe 

Contents of 



Luther sum- 
moned to 

The discus- 
sion con- 

Luther was not the first to criticise the current notions of 
indulgences, but his theses, owing to the vigor of their lan- 
guage and the existing irritation of the Germans against the 
administration of the Church, first brought the subject into 
prominence. He declared that the indulgence was very unim- 
portant and that the poor man would better spend his money 
for the needs of his household. The truly repentant, he 
argued, do not flee punishment, but bear it wilHngly in sign of 
their sorrow. Faith in God, not the procuring of pardons, 
brings forgiveness, and every Christian who feels true contri- 
tion for his sins will receive full remission of the punishment 
as well as of the guilt. Could the pope know how his agents 
misled the people, he would rather have St. Peter's burn to 
ashes than build it up with money gained under false pre- 
tenses. Then, Luther adds, there is danger that the common 
man will ask awkward questions. For example, " If the pope 
releases souls from purgatory for money, why not for charity's 
sake?" or, "Since the pope is rich as Croesus, why does he 
not build St. Peter's with his own money, instead of taking 
that of the poor man? " ^ 

143. The theses were soon forwarded to Rome, and a few 
months after they were posted Luther received a summons to 
appear at the papal court to answer for his heretical asser- 
tions. Luther still respected the pope as the head of the 
Church, but he had no wish to risk his safety by going to 
Rome. As Leo X was anxious not to offend so important a 
person as the elector of Saxony, who intervened for Luther, he 
did not press the matter, and agreed that Luther should confer 
with the papal emissaries in Germany. 

Brother Martin was induced to keep silence for a time, but 
was aroused again by a great debate arranged at Leipsic in 
the summer of 15 19. Here Eck, a German theologian noted 

1 The complete text of the theses may be found in Translations and 
Reprints, Vol. II, No. 6. 

Luther and his Revolt against the Church 393 

for his devotion to the pope and his great skill in debate, chal- 
lenged one of Luther's colleagues, Carlstadt, to discuss pub- 
licly some of the matters in which Luther himself was especially- 
interested. Luther therefore asked to be permitted to take part. 

The discussion turned upon the powers of the pope. Luther, The debate 
who had been reading church history, declared that the pope tsig.^^^^^^' 
had not enjoyed his supremacy for more than four hundred 
years. This statement was inaccurate, but, nevertheless, he 
had hit upon an argument against the customs of the Roman 
Catholic Church which has ever since been constantly urged 
by Protestants. They assert that the mediaeval Church and 
the papacy developed slowly, and that the apostles knew 
nothing of masses, indulgences, purgatory, and the headship 
of the Bishop of Rome. 

Eck promptly pointed out that Luther's views resembled Eck forces 
those of Wycliffe and Huss, which had been condemned by admit that 
the Council of Constance. Luther was forced reluctantly to Constance 
admit that the council had condemned some thoroughly and Huss 
Christian teachings. This was a decisive admission. Like 
other Germans, Luther had been accustomed to abhor Huss 
and the Bohemians, and to regard with pride the great gen- 
eral Council of Constance, which had been held in Germany 
and under the auspices of its emperor. He now admitted 
that even a general council could err, and was soon convinced 
" that we are all Hussites, without knowing it ; yes, Paul and 
St. Augustine were good Hussites." Luther's public encounter 
with a disputant of European reputation, and the startling 
admissions which he was compelled to make, first made him 
realize that he might become the leader in an attack on the 
Church. He began to see that a great change and upheaval 
was unavoidable. 

144. As Luther became a confessed revolutionist he began Luther and 

the human- 

to find friends amonsr other revolutionists and reformers. He ists natural 


had some ardent admirers even before the disputation at Leipsic, 


History of Western Europe 

toward the 

Luther and 

especially at Wittenberg and in the great city of Nuremberg. 
To the humanists, Luther seemed a natural ally. They might 
not understand his religious beUefs, but they clearly saw that 
he was beginning to attack a class of people that they disliked, 
particularly the old-fashioned theologians who venerated Aris- 
totle. He felt, moreover, as they did in regard to the many 
vices in the Church, and was becoming suspicious of the begging 
monks, although he was himself at the head of the Wittenberg 
monastery. So those who had defended Reuchlin were now 
ready to support Luther, to whom they wrote encouraging 
letters. Luther's works were published by Erasmus' printer 
at Basel, and sent to Italy, France, England, and Spain. 

But Erasmus, the mighty sovereign of the men of letters, 
refused to take sides in the controversy. He asserted that 
he had not read more than a dozen pages of Luther's writings. 
Although he admitted that " the monarchy of the Roman high 
priest was, in its existing condition, the pest of Christendom," 
he believed that a direct attack upon it would do no good. 
Luther, he urged, would better be discreet and trust that 
mankind would become more intelligent and outgrow their 
false ideas. 

To Erasmus, man was capable of progress ; cultivate him and 
extend his knowledge, and he would grow better and better. 
He was a free agent, with, on the whole, upright tendencies. 
To Luther, on the other hand, man was utterly corrupt, and 
incapable of a single righteous wish or deed. His will was 
enslaved to evil, and his only hope lay in the recognition of 
his absolute inabiUty to better himself, and in a humble reliance 
upon God's mercy. By faith only, not by conduct, could he 
be saved. Erasmus was willing to wait until every one agreed 
that the Church should be reformed. Luther had no patience 
with an institution which seemed to him to be leading souls to 
destruction by inducing men to rely upon their good works. 
Both men realized that they could not agree. For a time 

LiLtJicr and his Revolt against the CJiurcJi 395 

they expressed respect for each other, but at last they became 
involved in a bitter controversy in which they gave up all pre-* 
tense to friendship. Erasmus declared that Luther, by scorn- 
ing good works and declaring that no one could do right, had 
made his followers indifferent to their conduct, and that those 
who accepted Luther's teachings straightway became pert, rude 
fellows, who would not take off their hats to him on the street. 

Ulrich von Hutten, on the other hand, warmly espoused uirichvon 


Luther's cause as that of a German patriot and an opponent espouses 


of Roman tyranny, intrigue, and oppression. " Let us defend cause. 

our freedom," he wrote, " and liberate the long enslaved father- 
land. We have God on our side, and if God be with us, who 
can be against us? " Hutten enlisted the interest of some of 
the other knights, who offered to defend Luther should the 
churchmen attack him, and invited him to take refuge in their 

145. Thus encouraged, Luther, who gave way at times to his Luther begins 
naturally violent disposition, became threatening, and suggested language, 
that the civil power should punish the churchmen and force them 
to reform their conduct. " We punish thieves with the gallows, 
bandits with the sword, heretics with fire ; why should we not, 
with far greater propriety, attack with every kind of weapon 
these very masters of perdition, the cardinals, popes, and the 
whole mob in the Roman Sodom?" "The die is cast," he 
writes to a friend ; " I despise Rome's wrath as I do her favor ; 
I will have no reconciliation or intercourse with her in all time 
to come. Let her condemn and burn my writings. I will, if 
fire can be found, publicly condemn and burn the whole papal 

Hutten and Luther vied with one another during the year Luther's and 
1-1 11- • rr^i 1 1 Hutten's 

1520m attackmg the pope and his representatives. 1 hey both appeal to the 

possessed a fine command of the German language, and they people. 

were fired by a common hatred of Rome. Hutten had little or 

none of Luther's religious fervor, but he could not find colors 


History of Western Europe 

Address to 
the German 

too dark in which to picture to his countrymen the greed of 
the papal curia, which he described as a vast den, to which 
everything was dragged which could be filched from the 
Germans. Of Luther's popular pamphlets, the first really 
famous one was his Address to the Germafi Nobility, in which 
he calls upon the rulers of Germany, especially the knights, 
to reform the abuses themselves, since he believed that it was 
vain to wait for the Church to do so. 

He explains that there are three walls behind which the 
papacy had been wont to take refuge when any one proposed 
to remedy its abuses. There was, first, the claim that the 
clergy formed a separate class, superior even to the civil 
rulers, who might not punish a churchman, no matter how 
bad he was. Secondly, the pope claimed to be superior to 
a council, so that even the representatives of the Church 
might not correct him. And, lastly, the pope assumed the 
sole right to interpret the meaning of the Scriptures ; conse- 
quently he could not be refuted by arguments from the Bible. 
Thus the pope had stolen the three rods with which he might 
have been punished. Luther claimed to cast down these 
defenses by denying, to begin with, that there was anything 
especially sacred about a clergyman except the duties which 
he had been designated to perform. If he did not attend to 
his work he might be deprived of his office at any moment, 
just as one would turn off an incompetent tailor or farmer, 
and in that case he became a simple layman again. Luther 
claimed that it was the right and duty of the civil govern- 
ment to punish a churchman who does wrong just as if 
he were the humblest layman. When this first wall was 
destroyed the others would fall easily enough, for the domi- 
nant position of the clergy was the very corner stone of 
the mediaeval' Church.^ 

1 See above, p. 209, for the Church's doctrine of the " indelible character " 
which the priest received at ordination. 

Luther and his Revolt against the Church y^*J 

The pamphlet closes with a long list of evils which must be Luther advo- 

done away with before Germany can become prosperous, as wen as 

Luther saw that his view of religion really impHed a social reforms. 

revolution. He advocated reducing the monasteries to a 
tenth of their number and permitting those who were dis- 
appointed in the good they got from living in them freely to 
leave. He would not have them prisons, but hospitals and 
refuges for the soul-sick. He points out the evils of pilgrim- 
ages and of the numerous church holidays, which interfere 
with daily work. The clergy, he urged, should be permitted to 
marry and have families like other citizens. The universities 
should be reformed, and " the accursed heathen, Aristotle," 
should be cast out from them. 

It should be noted that Luther appeals to the authorities 
not in the name of religion chiefly, but in that of pubHc order 
and prosperity. He says that the money of the Germans flies 
feather-light over the Alps to Italy, but it suddenly becomes 
like lead when there is a question of its coming back. He 
showed himself a master of vigorous language, and his denun- 
ciations of the clergy and the Church resounded like a trumpet 
call in the ears of his countrymen. 

Luther had said little of the doctrines of the Church in Luther 

attacks the 
his Address to the German Nobility, but within three or four sacramental 

system in 
months he issued a second work, in which he sought to over- Ms Babij- 

1 1,1 /-I -111. Ionian Cap- 

throw the whole system of the sacraments, as it had been tiuityofthe 
taught by Peter Lombard and the theologians of the thirteenth 
century.^ Four of the seven sacraments — ordination, mar- 
riage, confirmation, and extreme unction — he rejected alto- 
gether. He completely revised the conception of the Mass, 
or the Lord's Supper. He stripped the priest of his singular 
powers by denying that he performed the miracle of transub- 

1 See above, §§ 81-82. The two great works of Luther, here mentioned, as 
well as his Freedom of the Christian, in which he explains his own doctrine very 
simply, may be found translated in Wace and Buchheim, Luther'' s Primary Works. 


History of Western Europt 


The German 
reluctant to 
publish the 
bull against 

Luther defies 
pope and 

stantiation or offered a sacrifice for the living and the dead 
when he officiated at the Lord's Supper. The priest was, in 
his eyes, only a minister, in the Protestant sense of the word, 
one of whose chief functions was preaching. 

146. Luther had long expected to be excommunicated. But 
it was not until late in 1520 that his adversary, Eck, arrived 
in Germany with a papal bull condemning many of Luther's 
assertions as heretical and giving him sixty days in which to 
recant. Should he fail to come to himself within that time, 
he and all who adhered to or favored him were to be excom- 
municated, and any place which harbored him should fall 
under the interdict. Now, since the highest power in Chris- 
tendom had pronounced Luther a heretic, he should unhesi- 
tatingly have been delivered up by the German authorities. 
But no one thought of arresting him. 

The bull irritated the German princes ; whether they liked 
Luther or not, they decidedly disliked to have the pope issuing 
commands to them. Then it appeared to them very unfair 
that Luther's personal enemy should have been intrusted with 
the publication of the bull. Even the princes and universities 
that were most friendly to the pope published the bull with great 
reluctance. The students of Erfurt and Leipsic pursued Eck 
with pointed allusions to Pharisees and devil's emissaries. In 
many cases the bull was ignored altogether. Luther's own sov- 
ereign, the elector of Saxony, while no convert to the new 
views, was anxious that Luther's case should be fairly consid- 
ered, and continued to protect him. One mighty prince, how- 
ever, the young emperor Charles V, promptly and willingly 
pubHshed the bull ; not, however, as emperor, but as ruler of 
the Austrian dominions and of the Netherlands. Luther's 
works were burned at Louvaine, Mayence, and Cologne, the 
strongholds of the old theology. 

'''Hard it is," Luther exclaimed, " to be forced to contradict 
all the prelates and princes, but there is no other way to 

Luther and Jiis Revolt against the Church 399 

escape hell and God's anger." Never had one man so unre- 
servedly declared war upon pretty much the whole consecrated 
order of things. As one power arrayed against an equal, the 
Wittenberg professor opposed himself to pope and emperor, 
giving back curse for curse and fagot for fagot. His students 
were summoned to witness " the pious, religious spectacle," 
when he cast Leo's J^ull on the fire, along with the canon law 
and one of the books of scholastic theology which he most 

Never was the temptation so great for Luther to encourage Hutten'spian 

a violent demolition of the old structure of the Church as at mediate 
,, . . TT 1 1 1 • ,- destruction 

this tuTie. Hutten was bent upon the speedy carrymg out of of the old 

the revolution which both he and Luther were forwarding by 
their powerful writings. Hutten had taken refuge in the castle of 
the leader of the German knights, Franz von Sickingen, who 
he believed would be an admirable military commander in the 
coming contest for truth and liberty. Hutten frankly proposed 
to the young emperor that the papacy should be abolished, that 
the property of the Church should be confiscated, and that 
ninety-nine out of a hundred of the clergy should be dispensed 
with as superfluous. In this way Germany would be freed, he 
argued, from the control of the " parsons " and from their cor- 
ruption. From the vast proceeds of the confiscation the state 
might be strengthened and an army of knights might be main- 
tained for the defense of the empire. 

Public opinion appeared ready for a revolution. "I am views of the 

- ... . , , , . r 1 • ^ . ,, papal repre- 

pretty famihar with the history of this German nation," sentative 

_ , . 1 1 1 1 T 1 1 • on public 

Leo s representative, Aleander, remarked ; " I know their past opinion in 

heresies, councils, and schisms, but never were affairs so 
serious before. Compared with present conditions, the strug- 
gle between Henry IV and Gregory VII was as violets and 
roses. . . . These mad dogs are now well equipped with knowl- 
edge and arms ; they boast that they are no longer ignorant 
brutes like their predecessors ; they claim that Italy has lost 



History of Western Europe 

toward a 
violent reali- 
zation of his 

Charles V's 
want of sym- 
pathy with 
the German 

the monopoly of the sciences and that the Tiber now flows 
into the Rhine." "Nine-tenths of the Germans," he calcu- 
lated, "are shouting 'Luther,' and the other tenth goes so far 
at least as * Death to the Roman curia.' " 

Luther was too frequently reckless and violent in his writ- 
ings. He often said that bloodshed could not be avoided when 
it should please God to visit his judgments upon the stiff- 
necked and perverse generation of " Romanists," as the Ger- 
mans contemptuously called the supporters of the pope. Yet 
he always discouraged precipitate reform. He was reluctant 
to make changes, except in belief. He held that so long as 
an institution did not mislead, it did no harm. He was, in 
short, no fanatic at heart. The pope had estabhshed himself 
without force, so would he be crushed by God's word without 
force. This, we may assume, was Luther's most profound con- 
viction, even in the first period of enthusiasm and confidence. 
He perhaps never fully realized how different Hutten's ideas 
were from his own, for the poet knight died while still a young 
man. And as for Franz von Sickingen, Luther soon learned 
to execrate the ruthless, worldly soldier who brought discredit 
by his violence upon the cause of reform. 

147. Among the enemies of the German reformers none 
was more important than tlie young emperor. It was toward 
the end of the year 1520 that Charles came to Germany for 
the first time. After being crowned king of the Romans at 
Aix-la-Chapelle, he assumed, with the pope's consent, the title 
of emperor elect, as his grandfather Maximilian had done. He 
then moved on to the town of Worms, where he was to hold 
his first diet and face the German situation. 

Although scarcely more than a boy in years, Charles had 
already begun to take life very seriously. He had decided 
that Spain, not Germany, was to be the bulwark and citadel of 
all his realms. Like the more enlightened of his Spanish sub- 
jects, he realized the need of reforming the Church, but he had 


Luther and his Revolt against the Church 401 

no sympathy whatever with any change of doctrine. He pro- 
posed to live and die a devout Catholic of the old type, such 
as his orthodox ancestors had been. He felt, moreover, that 
he must maintain the same religion in all parts of his hetero- 
geneous dominions. If he should permit the Germans to declare 
their independence of the Church, the next step would be for 
them to claim that they had a right to regulate their government 
regardless of their emperor. 

Upon arriving at Worms the case of Luther was at once forced Luther sum- 
^, , , . , , . , , . moned to the 

upon Charles attention by the assiduous papal representative, c^iet at 

Aleander, who was indefatigable in urging him to outlaw the 
heretic without further delay. While Charles seemed con- 
vinced of Luther's guilt, he could not proceed against him with- 
out serious danger. The monk had become a national hero 
and had the support of the powerful elector of Saxony. Other 
princes, who had ordinarily no wish to protect a heretic, felt 
that Luther's denunciation of the evils in the Church and of 
the actions of the pope was very gratifying. After much 
discussion it was finally arranged, to the great disgust of the 
zealous Aleander, that Luther should be summoned to Worms 
and be given an opportunity to face the German nation and 
the emperor, and to declare plainly whether he was the author 
of the heretical books ascribed to him, and whether he still 
adhered to the doctrines which the pope had declared wrong. 
The emperor accordingly wrote the " honorable and re- 
spected " Luther a very poHte letter, ordering him to appear 
at Worms and granting him a safe-conduct thither. Luther 
said, on receiving the summons, that if he was going to Worms 
merely to retract, he might better stay in Wittenberg, where 
he could, if he would, abjure his errors quite as well as on the 
Rhine. If, on the other hand, the emperor wished him to 
come to Worms in order that he might be put to death, he 
was quite ready to go, "for, with Christ's help, I will not 
flee and leave the Word in the lurch. My revocation will be 

402 History of Western Europe 

in this wise : * Earlier I said that the pope was God's vicar ; 
now I revoke and say, the pope is Christ's enemy and an 
envoy of the devil.' " 

148. Luther accordingly set out for Worms accompanied 
by the imperial herald. He enjoyed a triumphal progress 
through the various places on his way and preached repeat- 
edly, in spite of the fact that he was an excommunicated 
heretic. He found the diet in a great state of commotion. 
The papal representative was the object of daily insults, and 
Hutten and Sickingen talked of scattering Luther's enemies 
by a sally from the neighboring castle of Ebernburg. 
Luther before It was not proposed to give Luther an opportunity to defend 
his beliefs before the diet. When he appeared before " em- 
peror and empire," he was simply asked if a pile of his Latin 
and German works were really his, and, if so, whether he 
revoked what he had said in them. To the first question the 
monk replied in a low voice that he had written these and 
more. As to the second question, which involved the welfare 
of the soul and the Word of God, he asked that he might have 
a Httle while to consider. 

The following day, in a Latin address which he repeated in 
German, he admitted that he had been overviolent in his 
attacks upon his opponents; but he said that no one could 
deny that, through the popes' decrees, the consciences of 
faithful Christians had been miserably ensnared and tor- 
mented, and their goods and possessions, especially in Ger- 
many, devoured. Should he recant those things which he had 
said against the pope's conduct he would only strengthen the 
papal tyranny and give an opportunity for new usurpations. 
If, however, adequate arguments against his position could be 
found in the Scriptures, he would gladly and willingly recant. 
He could not, however, accept the decision either of pope or 
of council, since both, he beHeved, had made mistakes and 
contradicted themselves. " I must," he concluded, "allow my 

LntJier and his Revolt against the Church 403 

conscience to be controlled by God's Word. Recant I can not 

and will not, for it is hazardous and dishonorable to act against 

one's conscience." 

There was now nothing for the emperor to do but to The emperor 
1 T 1 1 1 1 1 • 1 , , • ■■ . , ^ forced by the 

outlaw Luther, who had denied the bindnig character of lawtoout- 

law Luther. 

the commands of the head of the Church and of the highest 

Christian tribunal, a general council. His argument that 
the Scriptures sustained him in his revolt could not be 
considered by the diet.^ 

Aleander was accordingly assigned the agreeable duty of The Edict of 
drafting the famous Edict of Worms. This document declared 
Luther an outlaw on the following grounds : that he disturbed 
the recognized number and celebration of the sacraments, 
impeached the regulations in regard to marriage, scorned and 
vilified the pope, despised the priesthood and stirred up the 
laity to dip their hands in the blood of the clergy, denied free 
will, taught licentiousness, despised authority, advocated a 
brutish existence, and was a menace to Church and State 
alike. Every one was forbidden to give the heretic food, 
drink, or shelter, and required to seize him and deliver him to 
the emperor. 

Moreover, the decree provides that " no one shall dare to 
buy, sell, read, preserve, copy, print, or cause to be copied or 
printed any books of the aforesaid Martin Luther, condemned 
by our holy father the pope, as aforesaid, or any other writings 
in German or Latin hitherto composed by him, since they are 
foul, noxious, suspected, and published by a notorious and 
stiff-necked heretic. Neither shall any one 'dare to affirm his 
opinions, or proclaim, defend, or advance them in any other 

1 It must be remembered that it was the emperor's business to execute the 
law, not to discuss its propriety with the accused. In the same way nowadays, 
should a man convicted, for example, of bigamy urge that he believed it Scrip- 
tural to have two wives, the court would refuse to listen to his arguments and 
would sentence him to the penalty imposed by law, in spite of the fact that the 
prisoner believed that he had committed no wrong. 

404 Histofy of Western Europe 

way that human ingenuity can invent, — notwithstanding that 
he may have put some good into his writings in order to 
deceive the simple man." ^ 

For the last time the empire had recognized its obligation 
to carry out the decrees of the Bishop of Rome. " I am 
becoming ashamed of my fatherland," Hutten cried. So gen- 
eral was the disapproval of the edict that few were wilHng to 
pay any attention to it. Charles immediately left Germany, 
and for nearly ten years was occupied outside it with the 
government of Spain and a succession of wars. 

General Reading. — Beard, Martin Luther (see above, p. 386), is 
probably the best account in English of Luther before his retirement to 
the Wartburg; Kostlin, Life of Luther (Scribner's Sons, $2.50), is 
excellent. An account of Luther and Hutten by a learned Roman 
Catholic writer may be found in Janssen, History of the German 
People (see above, p. 386), Vol. Ill ; Creighton, History of the 
Papacy (see above, p. 320), Vol. VI ; Chapters III and V are devoted 
to Luther and the diet of Worms. 

1 The text of the Edict of Worms is published in English in the Historical 
Leaflets issued by the Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pa. 



149. As Luther neared Eisenach upon his way home from Luther begins 
Worms he was seized by a band of men and conducted to the lation of the' 
Wartburg, a castle belonging to the elector of Saxony. Here wartburg. 
he was concealed until any danger from the action of the 
emperor or diet should pass by. His chief occupation during 
several months of hiding was to begin a new translation of 
the Bible into German. He had finished the New Testament 
before he left the Wartburg in March, 1522. 

Up to this time, German editions of the Scriptures, while 

not uncommon, were poor and obscure. Luther's task was a 

difficult one. He said with truth that " translation is not an 

art to be practiced by every one ; it demands a right pious, 

true, industrious, reverent. Christian, scholarly, experienced, 

and well-trained mind." He had studied Greek for only two 

or three years, and he knew far less Hebrew than Greek. 

Moreover, there was no generally accepted form of the German 

language of which he could make use. Each region had its 

peculiar dialect which seemed outlandish to the neighboring 


He was anxious above all that the Bible should be put into Luther's 

^ Bible the 

language that would seem perfectly clear and natural to the first impor- 

° ° r / tantbookin 

common folk. So he went about asking; the mothers and modem 

° ^ German, 
children and the laborers questions which might draw out the 

expression that he was looking for. It sometimes took him 

two or three weeks to find the right word. But so well did 



History of Western Europe 

General dis- 
cussion of 
public ques- 
tions in 
and satires. 

notions of 
how the 
Church should 
actually be 

he do his work that his Bible may be regarded as a great land- 
mark in the history of the German language. It was the first 
book of any importance written in modern German, and it has 
furnished an imperishable standard for the language. 

Previous to 15 18 there had been very few books or pamphlets 
printed in German. The translation of the Bible into language 
so simple that even the unlearned might profit by it was only 
one of the signs of a general effort to awaken the minds of 
the common people. Luther's friends and enemies also com- 
menced to write for the great German public in its own lan- 
guage. The common man began to raise his voice, to the 
scandal of the learned. 

Hundreds of pamphlets, satires, and pictorial caricatures have 
come down to us which indicate that the rehgious and other 
questions of the day were often treated in somewhat the same 
spirit in which our comic papers deal with political problems 
and discussions now. We find, for instance, a correspondence 
between Leo X and the devil, and a witty dialogue between 
Franz von Sickingen and St. Peter at the gate of heaven. In 
the latter Peter confesses that he has never heard of the right 
" to loose and to bind," of which his successors say so much. 
He refuses to discuss military matters with Sickingen, but calls 
in St. George, who is supposed to be conversant with the art of 
war. In another satire, a vacation visit of St. Peter to the earth 
is described. He is roughly treated, especially by the soldiers 
at an inn, and hastens back to heaven with a sad tale of the 
evil plight of Germany, of how badly children are brought up, 
and how unreliable the servants are.^ 

150. Hitherto there had been a great deal of talk of reform, 
but as yet nothing had actually been done. There was no 
sharp line drawn between the different classes of reformers. 
All agreed that something should be done to better the Church, 
few realized how divergent were the real ends in view. The 

1 See Readings, Chapter XXVI. 

Course of the Protestant Revolt in Germany 407 

princes listened to Luther because they hoped to control the 
churchmen and their property and check the outflow of money 
to Rome. The knights, under Sickingen, hated the princes, 
of whose increasing power they were jealous. Their idea of 
"righteousness " involved the destruction of the existing rulers 
and the exaltation of their own class. The peasants heard 
Luther gladly because he seemed to furnish new proofs of the 
injustice of the dues which they paid to their lords. The 
higher clergy were bent upon escaping the papal control, and 
the lower clergy wished to have their marriages sanctioned. 
It is clear that religious motives must have been often subor- 
dinated to other interests. 

Disappointment and chagrin awaited Luther when each of 
the various parties began to carry out its particular notions of 
reform. His doctrines were misunderstood, distorted, and 
dishonored. He sometimes was driven to doubt if his belief 
in justification by faith were not after all a terrible mistake. 
His first shock came from Wittenberg. 

While Luther was still at the Wartburg, Carlstadt, one of his caristadt 
colleagues in the university, became convinced that the monks breaking up 
and nuns ought to leave their cloisters and marry like other teries. 
people. This was a serious proposition for two reasons. In 
the first place, those who deserted the cloister were violating 
an oath which they had voluntarily taken ; in the second place, 
if the monasteries were brgken up the problem would present 
itself of the disposal of the property, which had been given 
to them by pious persons for the good of their souls, and with 
the expectation that the monks would give the donors the 
benefit of their prayers. Nevertheless, the monks began to 
leave Luther's own monastery, and the students and citizens 
to tear down the images of the saints in the churches. The 
Lord's Supper was no longer celebrated in the form of the 
Mass, since that was declared to be an idolatrous worshiping 
of the bread and wine. Then Carlstadt reached the conclusion 


History of Western Eiwope 

returns to 
and explains 
his plan of 
reform, 1522. 

patience and 

that all learning was superfluous, for the Scriptures said 
plainly that God had concealed himself from the wise and 
revealed the truth unto babes. He astonished the trades- 
people by consulting them in regard to obscure passages in 
the Bible. The school at Wittenberg was turned into a bake- 
shop. The students, who had been attracted to the university 
from all parts of Germany, began to return home, and the 
professors prepared to emigrate. 

When the news of these events reached Luther, he left his 
concealment, regardless of the danger, and returned to Witten- 
berg. Here he preached a series of vigorous s«rmons in which 
he pleaded for moderation and reason. With some of the 
changes advocated by Carlstadt he sympathized. He would, 
for instance, have done away with the adoration of the host 
and the celebration of private masses. On the other hand, he 
disapproved of the disorderly breaking up of the monasteries, 
although he held that those who had accepted the doctrine of 
justification by faith might lay aside their cowls, since they had 
taken their vows when they were under the misapprehension 
that they could save themselves by good works. Those who 
remained in the monasteries were not, moreover, to beg 
any longer, but should earn an honest livelihood. 

Luther felt that all changes in religious practices should be 
made by the government ; it should not be left to " Mr. Every- 
body " {Herr Omfies^ to determine what should be rejected and 
what retained. If the authorities refused to act, then there 
was nothing to do but to be patient and use one's influence for 
good. " Teach, speak, write, and preach that the ordinances 
of man are naught. Advise that no one shall any more become 
a priest, monk, or nun, and that those who occupy such posi- 
tions shall leave them. Give no more money for papal privi- 
leges, candles, bells, votive tablets, and churches, but say that 
a Christian life consists in faith and love. Let us keep this up 
for two years and you will see where pope, bishop, monks. 

Course of the Protestaiit Revolt in Germany 409 

nuns, and all the hocus-pocus of the papal government will 

be ; it will vanish away like smoke." God, Luther urged, has 

left us free to choose whether we shall marry, become monks, 

fast, confess, or place images in the churches. These things 

are not vital to salvation, and each may do what seems to him 

to be helpful in his particular case. 

Luther's plan of moderation was, however, wholly imprac- impossibility 

of peaceful 
ticable. The enthusiasm of those who rejected the old views reform. 

led to a whole-hearted repudiation of everything which sug- 
gested their former beliefs. Few could look with forbearance 
upon the symbols and practices of a form of religion which 
they had learned to despise. Moreover, many who had no 
deep religious feelings delighted in joining in the destruction 
of the paintings, stained glass, and statues in the churches, 
simply from a love of disorder. 

151. Luther was soon to realize that a peaceful revolution Franz von 
was out of the question. His knightly adherents, Hutten and attacks the 
Franz von Sickingen, were the first to bring discredit upon the of Treves, 
religious movement by their violence. In the autumn of 1522 
Sickingen declared war upon his neighbor, the Archbishop of 
Tr ves, in order to make a beginning in the knights' proposed 
attack upon the princes in general. He promised the people 
of Treves " to free them from the heavy, unchristian yoke of 
the parsons and to lead them into evangelical liberty." He 
had already abolished 'le Mass in his castle and given shelter 
to some of Luther's followers. But Franz, in undertaking to put 
the gospel, as he understood it, in practice by arms, had other 
than religious motives. His admiration of Luther probably 
had but little to do with his anxiety to put down a hated 
ecclesiastical prince and seize his property. 

The Archbishop of Treves proved himself a sagacious mili- confedera- 

tary commander and gained the support of his subjects. Franz knights 

^ ° ^^ .11, broken up by 

was forced to retire to his castle, where he was besieged by the the princes. 

neighboring elector of the Palatinate and the landgrave of 


History of Western Europe 

Death of 

Franz voa 
and Hutten. 

Hadrian VI 
confesses the 
evil deeds of 
the papacy. 

Hesse, a friend of Luther's. The walls of the stronghold were 
battered down by the "unchristian cannonading," and the 
" executor of righteousness," as Franz was called, was fatally 
injured by a falling beam. A few months later, Hutten died, 
a miserable fugitive in Switzerland. A confederation of the 
knights, of which Sickingen had been the head, aroused the 
apprehension of the princes, who gathered sufficient forces to 
destroy more than twenty of the knights' castles. So Hutten's 
great plan for restoring the knights to their former influence 
came to a sad and sudden end. It is clear that these men 
had little in common with Luther ; yet they talked much of 
evangelical reform, and he was naturally blamed for their mis- 
deeds. Those who adhered to the old Church now felt that 
they had conclusive proof that heresy led to anarchy ; and 
since it threatened the civil government as well as the Church, 
they urged that it should be put down with fire and sword. 

152. While Luther was in the Wartburg, the cultured and 
worldly Leo X had died and had been succeeded by a 
devout professor of theology, w^ho had once been Charles V's 
tutor. The new pope, Hadrian VI, was honest and simple, 
and a well-known advocate of reform without change of belief. 
He believed that the German revolt was a divine judgment 
called down by the wickedness of men, especially of the priests 
and prelates. He freely confessed, through his legate, in a 
meeting of the German diet at Nuremberg, that the popes 
had been perhaps the most conspicuous sinners. " We well 
know that for many years the most scandalous things have 
happened in this holy see [of Rome], — abuses in spiritual 
matters, violations of the capons, — that, in short, everything 
has been just the opposite of what it should have been. What 
wonder, then, if the disease has spread from the head to the 
members, from the popes to the lower clergy. We clergymen 
have all strayed from the right path, and for a long time there 
has been no one of us righteous, no, not one." 

1522 • 

Course of the Protestant Revolt in Germany 4 1 1 

In spite of this honest confession, Hadrian was unwilling to Hadrian's 
listen to the grievances of the Germans until they had put down of Luther. 
Luther and his heresies. He was, the pope declared, a worse 
foe to Christendom than the Turk. There could be nothing 
fouler or more disgraceful than Luther's teachings. He sought 
to overthrow the very basis of religion and morality. He was 
like Mohammed, but worse, for he would have the consecrated 
monks and nuns marry. Nothing would be securely estab- 
lished among men if every presumptuous upstart should insist 
that he had the right to overturn everything which had been 
firmly established for centuries and by saints and sages. 

The diet was much gratified by the pope's frank avowal of The action of 
the sins of his predecessors, in which it heartily concurred. It Nuremberg, 
was glad that the pope was going to begin his reform at home, 
but it strenuously refused to order the enforcement of the Edict 
of Worms for fear of stirring up new troubles. The Germans 
were too generally convinced that they were suffering from the 
oppression of the Roman curia to permit Luther to be injured. 
His arrest would seem an attack upon the freedom of gospel 
teaching and a defence of the old system ; it might even lead 
to civil war. So the diet advised that a Christian council be 
summoned in Germany to be made up of laymen as well as 
clergymen, who should be charged to speak their opinions 
freely and say, not what was pleasant, but what was true. 
In the meantime, only the pure gospel should be preached 
according to the teaching of the Christian Church. As to the 
complaint of the pope that the monks had deserted their monas- 
teries and the priests taken wives, these were not matters with 
which the civil authority had anything to do. As the elector 
of Saxony observed, he paid no attention to the monks 
when they ran into the monastery, and he saw no reason for 
noticing when they ran out. Luther's books were, however, 
to be no longer published, and learned men were to admonish 
the erring preachers. Luther, himself, was to hold his peace. 


History of Western Europe 

Accession of 
Pope Clement 

The forma- 
tion of a 
party at 

division of 

This doubtless gives a fair idea of public opinion in Germany. 
It is noteworthy that Luther did not seem to the diet to be a 
very discreet person and it showed no particular respect for him. 

153. Poor Hadrian speedily died, worn out with the vain 
effort to correct the abuses close at home. He was followed 
by Clement VH, a member of the house of Medici, less gifted 
but not less worldly than Leo X. A new diet, called in 1524, 
adhered to the policy of its predecessor. It was far from 
approving of Luther, but it placed no effective barrier in the 
way of his work. 

The papal legate, realizing the hopelessness of inducing all 
the members of the diet to cooperate with him in bringing 
the country once more under the pope's control, called 
together at Regensburg a certain number of rulers whom 
he believed to be rather more favorably disposed toward the 
pope than their fellows. Among these were Charles V's 
brother, Ferdinand, Duke of Austria, the two dukes of Bavaria, 
the archbishops of Salzburg and of Trent, and the bishops of 
Bamberg, Speyer, Strasburg, etc. By means of certain con- 
cessions on the part of the pope, he induced all these to unite 
in opposing the Lutheran heresy. The chief concession was 
a reform decree which provided that only authorized preachers 
should be tolerated, and that these should base their teaching 
on the works of the four great church fathers, Ambrose, 
Jerome, Augustine, and Gregory the Great. The clergy were 
to be subjected to careful discipline ; there was to be no more 
financial oppression and no unseemly payments demanded 
for performing the church services. Abuses arising from the 
granting of indulgences were to be remedied and the excessive 
number of holidays reduced. 

This agreement of Regensburg is of great importance, for it 
served to separate Germany into two camps. Austria, Bavaria, 
and the great ecclesiastical states in the south definitely took 
sides with the pope against Luther, and to this day they still 

Course of the Protestant Revolt in Germany 413 

remain Catholic countries. In the north, on the other hand, 

it became more and more apparent that the princes proposed 

to secede from the CathoUc Church. Moreover, the skillful 

diplomacy of the papal legate was really the beginning of a 

reformation of the old Church in Germany. Many of the Beginning of 

abuses were done away with, and the demand for reform, within the 

. , , . . , . , . . . , , Catholic 

Without revolution in doctrine and institutions, was thereby church. 

gratified.-^ A German Bible for CathoHc readers was soon 

issued, and a new religious literature grew up designed to 

prove the truth of the beliefs sanctioned by the Roman 

Catholic Church and to spiritualize its institutions and rites. 

154. In 1525 the conservative party, who were frankly afraid Luther's rash 

,- -r , • 1 1-11 r • 1 talk about 

of Luther, received a new and terrible proof, as it seemed to the princes 

and nobles 

them, of the noxious influence of his teachings. The peas- serves to 

^ ^ J, . . „ , . encourage 

ants rose, m the name of " God s justice, to avenge their the revolt of 

1 1 1 • 1 1 • • 1 T 1 •■. 1 the peasants, 

wrongs and establish their rights. Luther was not responsible 

for the civil war which ensued, but he had certainly helped to 

stir up discontent. He had asserted that, owing to the habit of 

foreclosing small mortgages, "any one with a hundred guldens 

could gobble up a peasant a year." The German feudal lords he 

had declared to be hangmen, who knew only how to swindle the 

poor man. " Such fellows were formerly called rascals, but now 

must we call them * Christian and revered princes.' " Wise 

rulers are rare indeed : *' they are usually either great fools or 

the worst rogues on earth." Yet in spite of his harsh talk 

about the princes, Luther really rehed upon them to forward 

his movement, and he justly claimed that he had greatly 

increased their power by destroying the authority of the pope 

and subjecting the clergy in all things to the government. 

Some of the demands of the peasants were perfectly rea- The demands 
1 1 mi • /- 1 • 1 1 °* the peas- 

sonable. The most popular expression of their needs was the ants in the 

' Twelve 
dignified "Twelve Articles."^ In these they claimed that the Articles.' 

1 See below, § 167. 

2 The "Twelve Articles" may be found in Translations and Reprints, 
Vol. II, No. 6. 


History of Western Europe 

Demands of 
the working 
classes of 
the towns. 

Luther urges 
the govern- 
ment to 
suppress the 

The peasant 
revolt put 
down with 
great cruelty. 

Bible did not sanction many of the dues which the lords 
demanded of them, and that as Christians they should no longer 
be held as serfs. They were willing to pay all the old and well- 
established dues, but they asked to be properly remunerated for 
extra services demanded by the lord. They thought too that 
each community should have the right freely to choose its own 
pastor and to dismiss him if he proved negligent or inefficient. 

Much more radical demands came from the working classes 
in the towns, who in some cases joined the country people in 
their revolt. The articles drawn up in the town of Heilbronn, 
for example, give a good idea of the sources of discontent. 
The church property was to be confiscated and used for the 
good of the community, except in so far as it was necessary to 
support the pastors chosen by the people. The clergy and 
nobility were to be deprived of all their privileges and powers, 
so that they could no longer oppress the poor man. 

There were, moreover, leaders who were still more violent, 
who proposed to kill the " godless " priests and nobles. Hun- 
dreds of castles and monasteries were destroyed by the frantic 
peasantry, and some of the nobility were murdered with shock- 
ing cruelty. Luther tried to induce the peasants, with whom, 
as the son of a peasant, he was at first inclined to sympathize, 
to remain quiet ; but when his warnings proved vain, he 
attacked the rebels violently. He declared that they were 
guilty of the most fearful crimes, for which they deserved death 
of both body and soul many times over. They had broken 
their allegiance, they had wantonly plundered and robbed 
castles and monasteries, and lastly, they had tried to cloak their 
dreadful sins with excuses from the Gospel. He therefore urged 
the government to put down the insurrection. " Have no pity 
on the poor folk ; stab, smite, throttle, who can !" 

Luther's advice, was followed with terrible literalness by the 
German rulers, and the nobility took fearful revenge for the dep- 
redations of the peasants. In the summer of 1525 the chief 

Course of the Protestant Revolt in Germany 415 

leader of the peasants was defeated and killed, and it is esti- 
mated that ten thousand peasants were put to death, many with 
the utmost cruelty. Few rulers or lords introduced any 
reforms, and the misfortunes due to the destruction of prop- 
erty and to the despair of the peasants cannot be imagined. 
The people concluded that the new gospel was not for them, 
and talked of Luther as " Dr. Liigner," i.e., liar. The old 
exactions of the lords of the manors were in no way lightened, 
and the situation of the peasants for centuries following the 
great revolt was worse rather than better. 

155. The terror inspired by the peasant war led to new Catholic and 
r t , , ,. . Protestant 

measures agamst further attempts to change the religious unions of the 

beliefs of the land. The League of Dessau was formed among princes. 

some of the leading rulers of central and northern Germany, to 

stamp out " the accursed Lutheran sect." The union included 

Luther's arch enemy, Duke George of Saxony, the electors 

of Brandenburg and Mayence, and two princes of Brunswick. 

The rumor that the emperor, who had been kept busy for 

some years by his wars with Francis I, was planning to come 

to Germany in order to root out the growing heresy, led the 

few princes who openly favored Luther to unite also. Among 

these the chief were the new elector of Saxony, John Frederick, 

and Philip, landgrave of Hesse. These two proved themselves 

the most ardent and conspicuous defenders of the Protestant 

faith in Germany. 

A new war, in which Francis and the pope sided against The diet of 

the emperor, prevented Charles from turning his attention to to the inS-^ 

Germany, and he accordingly gave up the idea of enforcing the right to 

the Edict of Worms against the Lutherans. Since there was the religion 

no one who could decide the religious question for all the jects, X526. 

rulers, the diet of Speyer (1526) determined that, pending 

the meeting of a general council, each ruler, and each knight 

and town owing immediate allegiance to the emperor, should 

decide individually what particular form of religion should 


History of Western Europe 

Charles V 
again inter- 
venes in the 
religious con- 
troversy in 

Origin of 
the term 
' Protestant.' 

prevail in his realm. Each prince was " so to live, reign, and 
conduct himself as he would be willing to answer before God 
and His Imperial Majesty." For the moment, then, the vari- 
ous German governments were left to determine the religion 
of their subjects. 

Yet all still hoped that one religion might ultimately be 
agreed upon. Luther trusted that all Christians would some- 
time accept the new gospel. He was willing that the bishops 
should be retained, and even that the pope should still be 
regarded as a sort of presiding officer in the Church. As 
for his enemies, they were equally confident that the heretics 
would in time be suppressed as they had always been in the 
past, and that harmony would thus be restored. Neither 
party was right ; for the decision of the diet of Speyer was 
destined to become a permanent arrangement, and Germany 
remained divided between different religious faiths. 

New sects opposed to the old Church had begun to appear. 
Zwingli, a Swiss reformer, was gaining many followers, and the 
Anabaptists were rousing Luther's apprehensions by their radical 
plans for doing away with the Catholic religion. As the emperor 
found himself able for a moment to attend to German affairs 
he bade the diet, again meeting at Speyer in 1529, to order 
the enforcement of the edict against the heretics. No one 
was to preach against the Mass and no one was to be prevented 
from attending it freely. 

This meant that the " Evangelical " princes would be forced 
to restore the most characteristic Catholic ceremony. As they 
formed only a minority in the diet, all that they could do was 
to draw up 2i protest, signed by John Frederick, Philip of Hesse, 
and fourteen of the imperial towns (Strasburg, Nuremberg, 
Ulm, etc.). In this they claimed that the majority had no 
right to abrogate the edict of the former diet of Speyer for 
that had passed unanimously and all had solemnly pledged 
themselves to observe the agreement. They therefore appealed 

Course of the Protestant Revolt in Germany 4 1 7 

to the emperor and a future council against the tyranny of the 

majority.^ Those who signed this appeal were called from 

their action Protestants. Thus originated the name which 

came to be generally applied to those who do not accept the 

rule and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. 

156. Since the diet at Worms the emperor had resided in Preparations 
1 • 1 • 1 • r -1 • , *or the diet 

Spam, busied with a succession of wars carried on with the of Augsburg. 

king of France. It will be remembered that both Charles 
and Francis claimed Milan and the duchy of Burgundy, and 
they sometimes drew the pope into their conflicts.^ But in 
1530 the emperor found himself at peace for the moment 
and held a brilliant diet of his German subjects at Augsburg 
in the hope of settHng the religious problem, which, how- 
ever, he understood very imperfectly. He ordered the Prot- 
estants to draw up a statement of exactly what they believed, 
which should serve as a basis for discussion. Melanchthon, 
Luther's most famous friend and colleague, who was noted 
for his great learning and moderation, was intrusted with the 
delicate task. 

The Augsburg Confession, as his declaration was called, is The Augs- 


an historical document of great importance for the student of fession. 
the Protestant revolt.^ Melanchthon's gentle and conciliatory 
disposition led him to make the differences between his belief 
and that of the old Church seem as few and sHght as possible. 
He showed that both parties held the same fundamental views 
of Christianity. The Protestants, however, defended their 
rejection of a number of the practices of the Roman Catho- 
lics, such as the celibacy of the clergy and the observance of 

1 The Protest of Speyer is to be had in English in the Historical Leaflets 
pubUshed by the Crozer Theological Seminary, Chester, Pa. 

2 For the successive wars between Charles and Francis and the terrible sack 
of Rome in 1528, see Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Cettttiry, pp. 172-175 
and 181-195. 

3 It is still accepted as the creed of the Lutheran Church. Copies of it in 
English may be procured from the Lutheran Publication Society, Philadelphia, 
for ten cents each. 


History of Western Europe 

Charles V's 
attempt at 

Progress of 
ism up to the 
Peace of 

fast days. There was little or nothing in the Augsburg Con- 
fession concerning the organization of the Church. 

Certain theologians, some of whom, like Eck, had been loud 
in their denunciations of Luther, were ordered by the emperor 
to prepare a refutation of the Protestant views. The state- 
ment of the Catholics admitted that a number of Melanchthon's 
positions were perfectly orthodox; but the portion of the 
Augsburg Confession which dealt with the practical reforms 
introduced by the Protestants was rejected altogether. Charles 
declared the Catholic statement to be " Christian and judi- 
cious " and commanded the Protestants to accept it. They 
were to cease troubling the Catholics and were to give back all 
the monasteries and church property which they had seized. 
The emperor agreed to urge the pope to call a council to meet 
within a year. This, he hoped, would be able to settle all 
differences and reform the Church according to the views of 
the Catholics. 

157. It is unnecessary to follow in detail the progress of 
Protestantism in Germany during the quarter of a century suc- 
ceeding the diet of Augsburg. Enough has been said to show 
the character of the revolt and the divergent views taken by the 
German princes and people. For ten years after the emperor 
left Augsburg he was kept busy in southern Europe by new 
wars ; and in order to secure the assistance of the Protestants, 
he was forced to let them go their own way. Meanwhile the 
number of rulers who accepted Luther's teachings gradually 
increased. Finally there was a brief war between Charles 
and the Protestant princes, but the origin of the conflict was 
mainly political rather than religious. It occurred to the youth- 
ful Maurice, Duke of Saxony, that by aiding the emperor against 
the Protestants he might find a good excuse for dispossessing 
his Protestant relative, John Frederick, of his electorate. There 
was but little fighting done. Charles V brought his Spanish 
soldiers into Germany and captured both John Frederick and 

Course of the Protestant Revolt in Germany 419 

his ally, Philip of Hesse, the chief leaders of the Lutheran 
cause, whom he kept prisoners for several years. -^ 

This episode did not check the progress of Protestantism. The Peace of 
Maurice, who had been granted John Frederick's electorate, 
soon turned about and allied himself with the Protestants. 
The king of France promised them help against his enemy, the 
emperor, and Charles was forced to agree to a preliminary 
peace with the Protestants. Three years later, in 1555, the 
religious Peace of Augsburg was ratified. Its provisions are 
memorable. Each German prince and each town and knight 
immediately under the emperor was to be at liberty to make 
a choice between the beliefs of the venerable Catholic Church 
and those embodied in the Augsburg Confession. If, however, 
an ecclesiastical prince — an archbishop, bishop, or abbot — 
declared himself a Protestant, he must surrender his posses- 
sions to the Church. Every one was either to conform to the 
religious practices of his particular state, or emigrate. 

This religious peace in no way established freedom of con- The principle 

science, except for the rulers. Their power, it must be noted, government 

. . J . , , . , should deter- 

was greatly increased, inasmuch as they were given the con- mine the 

trol of religious as well as of secular matters. This arrange- subjects, 
ment which permitted the ruler to determine the religion of 
his realm was natural, and perhaps inevitable, in those days. 
The Church and the civil government had been closely asso- 
ciated with one another for centuries. No one as yet dreamed 
that every individual, so long as he did not violate the law of 
the land, might safely be left quite free to believe what he 
would and to practice any religious rites which afforded him 
help and comfort. 

There were two noteworthy weaknesses in the Peace of weaknesses 
Augsburg which were destined to make trouble. In the first of Augsburg, 
place, only one group of Protestants was included in it. The 

1 Reference, Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Century^ Chapter V ; Walker, 
The Reformation^ pp. 188-216. 

420 History of Western Europe 

now numerous followers of the French reformer, Calvin, and 
of the Swiss reformer, Zwingli, who were hated alike by Catho- 
lic and Lutheran, were not recognized. Every German had 
to be either a Catholic or a Lutheran in order to be tolerated. 
In the second place, the clause which decreed that ecclesias- 
tical princes converted to Protestantism should surrender their 
property could not be enforced, for there was no one to see 
to its execution. 



158. For at least a century after Luther's death the great 
issue between Catholics and Protestants dominates the history 
of all the countries with which we have to do, except Italy and 
Spain, where Protestantism never took permanent root. In 
Switzerland, England, France, and Holland the revolt against 
the mediaeval Church produced profound changes, which must 
be understood in order to follow the later development of these 

We turn first to Switzerland, lying in the midst of the great Origin of the 
chain of the Alps which extends from the Mediterranean to federation. 
Vienna. During the Middle Ages, the region destined to 
be included in the Swiss Confederation formed a part of the 
empire, and was scarcely distinguishable from the rest of 
southern Germany. As early as the thirteenth century the 
three "forest" cantons on the shores of the winding lake of 
Lucerne had formed a union to protect their liberties against 
the encroachments of their neighbors, the Hapsburgs. It was 
about this tiny nucleus that Switzerland gradually consolidated. 
In 13 1 5 the cantons gained their first great victory over the 
Llapsburgs at Morgarten and thereupon solemnly renewed 
their league. This was soon joined by Lucerne and the free 
imperial towns of Zurich and Berne. By brave fighting the 
Swiss were able to frustrate the renewed efforts of the Haps- 
burgs to subjugate them. Later, when a still more formidable 



History of Western Europe 

enemy, Charles the Bold, undertook to conquer them they 
put his armies to rout at Granson and Murten (1476).^ 
Switzerland Various districts in the neighborhood successively joined the 
separate^ Swiss union, and even the region lying on the Italian slopes of 
mixed^ ' the Alps was brought under its control. Gradually the bonds 

ofits°p^eopie. between the members of the union and the empire were 

The Swiss Confederation 

broken. They were recognized as being no more than " rela- 
tives " of the empire; in 1499 they were finally freed from 
the jurisdiction of the emperor, and Switzerland became a 
I See above, p. 300. 

Protestant Revolt in Szvitzerland and Etigland 423 

practically independent country. Although the original union 
had been made up of German-speaking people, considerable 
districts had been annexed in which Italian or French was 
spoken.^ The Swiss did not, therefore, form a compact, well- 
defined nation, and for some centuries their confederation was 
weak and ill-organized. 

159. In Switzerland the leader of the revolt against the Zwingii 

Church was Zwingii, who was a year younger than Luther leads the 
1 iM 1 • 1 r r, • 1., ^ , revolt in 

and like nim was the son of peasant parents. Zwmgli s father Switzerland 

was prosperous, however, and the boy had the best educa- Church, 
tion which could be obtained, at Basel and Vienna. His 
later discontent with the old Church came not through spir- 
itual wrestlings in the monastery, but from the study of the 
classics and of the Greek New Testament. Zwingii had 
become a priest and settled at the famous monastery of 
Einsiedeln near the lake of Zurich. This was the center 
of pilgrimages on account of a wonder-working image in the 
cell of St. Meinrad. "Here," he says, "I began to preach 
the Gospel of Christ in the year 15 16, before any one in my 
locality had so much as heard the name of Luther." 

Three years later he was called to an influential position as Zwingii 
preacher in the cathedral of Zurich, and there his great work the abuses 
began. Through his efforts a Dominican who was preaching and the traffic 
indulgences was expelled from the country. He then began to 
denounce the abuses in the Church as well as the shameless 
traffic in soldiers, which he had long regarded as a blot upon 
his country's honor.^ The pope had found the help of the 
Swiss troops indispensable, and had granted annuities and 

1 This condition has not changed ; all Swiss laws are still proclaimed in three 

2 Switzerland had made a business, ever since the time when Charles VIII of 
France invaded Italy, of supplying troops of mercenaries to fight for others, 
especially for France and the pope. It was the Swiss who gained the battle of 
Marignano for Francis I, and Swiss guards may still be seen in the pope's 


History of Westeim Europe 

under the 
influence of 
begins a 

Other towns 

lucrative positions in the Church to influential Swiss, who were 
expected to work in his interest. So, from the first, Zwingh 
was led to combine with his religious reform a political reform 
which should put the cantons on better terms with one another 
and prevent the destruction of their young men in wars in 
which they had no possible interest. A new demand of the 
pope for troops in 152 1 led Zwingli to attack him and his 
commissioners. " How appropriate," he exclaims, '' that they 
should have red hats and cloaks ! If we shake them, crowns 
and ducats fall out. If we wring them, out runs the blood of 
your sons and brothers and fathers and good friends." ^ 

Such talk soon began to arouse comment, and the old forest 
cantons were for a violent suppression of the new teacher, but 
the town council of Zurich stanchly supported their priest. 
Zwingli then began to attack fasts and the celibacy of the 
clergy. In 1523 he prepared a complete statement of his 
behef, in the form of sixty-seven theses. In these he main- 
tained that Christ was the only high priest and that the Gospel 
did not gain its sanction from the authority of the Church. 
He denied the existence of purgatory and rejected those 
practices of the Church which Luther had already set aside. 
Since no one presented himself to refute Zwingli, the town 
council ratified his conclusions and so withdrew from the 
Roman CathoHc Church. The next year the Mass, proces- 
sions, and the images of the saints were abolished ; the shrines 
were opened and the relics buried. 

Some other towns followed Zurich's example ; but the original 
cantons about the lake of Lucerne, which feared that they 
might lose the great influence that, in spite of their small 
size, they had hitherto enjoyed, were ready to fight for the 
old faith. The first armed collision, half pohtical and half 
religious, between the Swiss Protestants and Catholics took 

1 So eloquent was the new preacher that one of his auditors reports that after 
a sermon he felt as if " he had been taken by the hair and turned inside out." 

Protestant Revolt in Switzerland and Engla^id 425 

place at Kappel in 15 31, and Zwingli fell in the battle. The 
various cantons and towns never came to an agreement in reli- 
gious matters, and Switzerland is still part Catholic and part 

The chief importance for the rest of Europe of Zwingli's 
revolt was the influence of his conception of the Lord's 
Supper. He not only denied transubstantiation,^ but also the 
"real presence" of Christ in the elements (in which Luther 
believed), and conceived the bread and wine to be mere sym- 
bols. Those in Germany and England who accepted ZwingH's 
idea added one more to the Protestant parties, and conse- 
quently increased the difficulty of reaching a general agree- 
ment among those who had revolted from the Church.^ 

160. Far more important than Zwingli's teachings, espe- caivindsog- 
cially for England and America, was the work of Calvin, Presbyterian 

... . , . , . . . „ , Church. 

which was carried on in the ancient city of Geneva on the 
very outskirts of the Swiss confederation. It was Calvin who 
organized the Presbyterian Church and formulated its beliefs. 
He was born in northern France in 1509 ; he belonged, there- 
fore, to the second generation of Protestants. He was early 
influenced by the Lutheran teachings, which had already found 
their way into France. A persecution of the Protestants under 
Francis I drove him out of the country and he settled for a 
time iii Basel.^ 

Here he issued the first edition of his great work, The Insti- Calvin's 

^ Institutes of 

tutes of Christianity^ which has been more widely discussed Christianity. 
than any other Protestant theological treatise. It was the 
first orderly exposition of the principles of Christianity from 
a Protestant standpoint. Like Peter Lombard's Sentences, it 
formed a convenient manual for study and discussion. The 
Institutes are based upon the infalHbihty of the Bible and reject 

1 See above, pp. 212-213. 

2 For Zwingli's life and work see the scholarly biography by Samuel Macauley 
Jackson, Htildreich Zwingli (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 1901). 

3 See below, p. 452. 


History of Western Europe 

in Geneva. 

The gradual 
revolt of 
from the 

the infallibility of the Church and the pope. Calvin possessed 
a remarkably logical mind and a clear and admirable style. 
The French version of his great work is the first example of 
the successful use of that language in an argumentative treatise. 

Calvin was called to Geneva about 1540 and intrusted with 
the task of reforming the town, which had secured its inde- 
pendence of the duke of Savoy. He drew up a constitution 
and established an extraordinary government, in which the 
church and the civil government were as closely associated 
as they had ever been in any Catholic country.^ The Protes- 
tantism which found its way into France was that of Calvin, 
not that of Luther, and the same may be said of Scotland. 

161. The revolt of England from the mediaeval Church was 
very gradual and halting. Although there were some signs 
that Protestantism was gaining a foothold in the island not 
long after Luther's burning of the canon law, a generation at 
least passed away before the country definitely committed 
itself, upon the accession of Queen Elizabeth in 1558, to the 
change in religion. It seems at first sight as if the revolution 
were due mainly to the irritation of Henry VHI against the 
pope, who refused to grant the king a divorce from his first 
wife in order that he might marry a younger and prettier 
woman. But a permanent change in the religious convictions 
of a whole people cannot fairly be attributed to the whim of 
even so despotic a ruler as Henry. There were changes taking 
place in England before the revolt similar to those which 
prepared the way in Germany for Luther's success. 
johnCoiet. EngUsh scholars began, in the latter part of the fifteenth 
century, to be affected by the new learning which came to 
them from Italy. Colet,^ among others, strove to introduce 
the study of Greek in Oxford. Like Luther he found himself 

1 Calvin intrusted the management of church affairs to the ministers and the 
elders, or presbyters, hence the name Presbyterian. For Calvin's work, see 
Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Century, pp. 272-276. 

2 See above, p. 382. 

Protestant Revolt in Switzerland and England 427 

especially attracted by St. Paul, and had begun to teach the 
doctrine of justification by faith long before the German 
reformer was heard of. 

The most distinguished writer of the period was, perhaps, sir Thomas 
Sir Thomas More. The title of his famous Uttle book, Utopia, ^uSp1S^^'^ 
i.e. "Nowhere," published about 15 15, has become synonymous 
with ideal and impracticable schemes for bettering the world. 
He pictures the happy conditions in an undiscovered land 
where a perfect form of government has done away with 
all the evils which he observes about him in the England of 
his day. The Utopians, unlike the English, fought only to 
keep out invaders or to free others from tyranny, and never 
undertook wars of aggression such as Henry VHI was con- 
stantly contemplating. In Utopia no one was persecuted for 
his religion so long as he treated others fairly.^ 

When Erasmus came to England about 1500 he was delighted The English 
• 1 1 • 1 • 1 1 r 1 T 11- admirers of 

With the society which he found, and we may assume that his Erasmus. 

views, which we have before described,^ represented those of a 
considerable number of intelligent Englishmen. It was at the 
house of More that he finished the Praise of Folly, and he car- 
ried on his studies with such success in England and found such 
congenial companions there that it seemed to him that it was 
hardly worth while to go to Italy for intellectual inspiration. 
There is every reason to suppose that there were, in England, 
many who were quite conscious of the vices of the churchmen 
and who were ready to accept a system which would abolish 
those practices that had come to seem useless and pernicious. 

162. Henry VIII's minister, Cardinal Wolsey, deserves woisey's 

great credit for having constantly striven to discourage his peace and 
, , . . , . , , . his idea of 

sovereign s ambition to take part in the wars on the continent, the balance 

The cardinal's argument that England could become great by 

1 An English translation of the Utopia is published by the Macmillan 
Company at 50 cents. 

2 See above, § 139. 


History of Western Europe 

Henry VIII 's 
divorce case . 

peace better than by war was a momentous discovery. Peace 
he felt would be best secured by maintaining the balance of 
power on the continent so that no ruler should become dan- 
gerous by unduly extending 
his sway. For example, he 
thought it good policy to side 
with Charles when Francis was 
successful, and then with 
Francis after his terrible defeat 
at Pavia (1525) when he fell 
into the hands of Charles. 
This idea of the balance of 
power came to be recognized 
later by the European countries 
as a very important considera- 
tion in determining their pol- 
icy. But Wolsey was not long 
to be permitted to put his 
enlightened ideas in practice. His fall and the progress of 
Protestantism in England are both closely associated with the 
notorious divorce case of Henry VHI. 

It will be remembered that Henry had married Catherine 
of Aragon, the aunt of Charles V. Only one of their children, 
Mary, had survived to grow up. Henry was very anxious to 
have a son and heir, for he was fearful lest a woman might not 
be permitted to succeed to the throne. Moreover, Catherine, 
who was older than he, had become distasteful to him. 

Catherine had first married Henry's older brother, who had 
died almost immediately after the marriage. Since it was 
a violation of the rule of the Church to marry a deceased 
brother's wife, Henry professed to fear that he was commit- 
ting a sin by retaining Catherine as his wife and demanded to 
be divorced from her on the ground that his marriage had never 
been legal. His anxiety to rid himself of Catherine was greatly 

Henry VIII of England 

Protestajit Revolt in Switzerland and England 429 

increased by the appearance at court of a black-eyed girl of 

sixteen, named Anne Boleyn, with whom the king fell in love. 

Unfortunately for his case, his marriage with Catherine had Clement vii 

been authorized by a dispensation from the pope, so that divorce 

Clement VII, to whom the king appealed to annul the mar- ^^'^' 

riage, could not, even if he had been willing to ahenate the 

queen's nephew, Charles V, have granted Henry's request. 

Wolsey's failure to induce the pope to permit the divorce Fail of 

excited the king's anger, and with rank ingratitude for his 

minister's great services, Henry drove him from office (1529) 

and seized his property. From a Hfe of wealth which was 

fairly regal, Wolsey was precipitated into extreme poverty. 

An imprudent but innocent act of his soon gave his enemies 

a pretext for charging him with treason ; but the unhappy man 

died on his way to London before his head could be brought 

to the block. 

163. The king's next move was to bring a preposterous Henry forces 

charge against the whole English clergy by declaring that, in clergy to 

submitting to Wolsey's authority as papal legate, they had him as the 

. , 1 . 1 r 1 • 1 T 1 • supreme head 

Violated an ancient law torbidding papal representatives to of the Church 

appear in England without the king's permission. Yet Henry 

had approved Wolsey's appointment as papal legate. The 

clergy met at Canterbury and offered to buy pardon for their 

alleged offense by an enormous grant of money. But Henry 

refused to forgive them unless they would solemnly acknowledge 

him to be the supreme head of the English Church. This they 

accordingly did ; ^ they agreed, moreover, to hold no general 

meetings or pass any rules without the king's sanction. The 

submission of the clergy ensured Henry against any future 

criticism on their part of the measures he proposed to take 

in the matter of his divorce. 

1 The clergy only recognized the king as " Head of the Church and Clergy so 
far as the law of Christ will allow." They did not abjure the headship of the 
pope over the whole Church. 


History of Western Europe 

forbids all 
appeals to 
the pope, 

An English 
court de- 

Henry's mar- 
riage with 

The Act of 
and the 
denial of 
the pope's 
over England. 

Henry VIII no 

He now induced Parliament to threaten to cut off the income 
which the pope had been accustomed to receive from newly 
appointed bishops. The king hoped in this way to bring 
Clement VII to terms. He failed, however, in this design 
and, losing patience, married Anne Boleyn secretly without 
waiting for the divorce. Parliament was then persuaded to 
pass the Act of Appeals, declaring that lawsuits of all kinds 
should be finally and definitely decided within the realm, and 
that no appeal might be made to any one outside the kingdom. 
Catherine's appeal to the pope was thus rendered illegal. When, 
shortly after, her marriage was declared void by a Church court 
summoned by Henry, she had no remedy. Parliament also 
declared Henry's marriage with Catherine unlawful and that 
with Anne legal. Consequently it was decreed that Elizabeth, 
Anne's daughter, who was born in 1533, was to succeed her 
father on the throne, instead of Mary, the daughter of Catherine. 

In 1534 the English Parliament completed the revolt of the 
EngUsh Church from the pope by assigning to the king the 
right to appoint all the EngHsh prelates and to enjoy all 
the income which had formerly found its way to Rome. In 
the Act of Supremacy, Parliament declared the king to be 
" the only supreme head in earth of the Church of England," 
and that he should enjoy all the powers which the title natu- 
rally carried with it. Two years later every officer in the king- 
dom, whether lay or ecclesiastical, was required to swear to 
renounce the authority of the Bishop of Rome. Refusal to 
take this oath was to be adjudged high treason. Many were 
unwilHng to deny the pope's headship merely because king 
and Parliament renounced it, and this legislation led to a 
persecution in the name of treason which was even more 
horrible than that which had been carried on in the supposed 
interest of rehgion. 

It must be carefully noted that Henry VIII was not a Protes- 
tant in the Lutheran sense of the word. He was led, it is true, 

Protestant Revolt in Switzerland and Ejigla^id 431 

by Clement VII's refusal to declare his first marriage illegal, to 
break the bond between the English and the Roman Church, 
and to induce the English clergy and Parliament to acknowledge 
him as supreme head in the religious as well as in the temporal 
interests of the country. No earlier English sovereign had ever 
ventured to go so far as this in the previous conflicts with Rome. 
He was ready, too, as we shall see, to appropriate the property 
of the monasteries on the ground that these institutions were 
so demoralized as to be worse than useless. Important as these 
acts were, they did not lead Henry to accept the teachings 
of Protestant leaders, like Luther, Zwingli, or Calvin. He 
shared the popular distrust of the new doctrines, and showed 
himself anxious to explain the old ones and free them from 
the objections which were beginning to be urged against 
them. A proclamation was made, under the authority of the 
king, in which the sacraments of baptism, penance, and the 
Mass were explained. In the same year (1536) Henry author- 
ized the publication of an English translation of the Bible The English 
which had been completed by Miles Coverdale. He did this 
the more willingly, perhaps, on account of the silence of the 
Bible in regard to the papal claims. 

Henry was anxious to prove that he was orthodox, espe- Henry's 
cially after he had seized the property of the monasteries and prove himself 
the gold and jewels which adorned the receptacles in which catholic 
the relics of the saints were kept. He presided in person 
over the trial of one who accepted the opinion of Zwingli, 
that the body and blood of Christ were not present in the 
sacrament. He quoted Scripture to prove the contrary, and 
the prisoner was condemned and burned as a heretic. 

In 1539 Parliament passed a statute called the "Six Arti- The 'Six 
cles." These declared first that the body and blood of 
Christ were actually present in the bread and the wine 
of the Lord's Supper ; whoever ventured publicly to ques- 
tion this was to be burned. For speaking against five other 



History of Western Europe 


Execution of 
Sir Thomas 

of the Eng- 
lish monas- 

tenets ^ of the old Church, offenders were to suffer imprison- 
ment and loss of goods for the first offense, and to be hanged 
for the second. Two bishops, who had ventured to go farther 
in the direction of Protestantism than Henry himself had 
done, were driven from office and some offenders were put 
to death under this act. 

164. Henry was heartless and despotic. With a barbarity 
not uncommon in those days, he allowed his old friend and 
adviser, Sir Thomas More, to be beheaded for refusing to 
pronounce the marriage with Catherine void. He caused 
numbers of monks to be executed for refusing to swear that 
his first marriage was illegal and for denying his title to 
supremacy in the Church. Others he permitted to die of 
starvation and disease in the filthy prisons of the time. Many 
Englishmen would doubtless have agreed with one of the friars 
who said humbly: "I profess that it is not out of obstinate 
malice or a mind of rebellion that I do disobey the king, but 
•only for the fear of God, that I offend not the Supreme 
Majesty ; because our Holy Mother, the Church, hath decreed 
and appointed otherwise than the king and Parliament hath 

Henry wanted money ; some of the Enghsh abbeys were rich, 
and the monks were quite unable to defend themselves against 
the charges which were brought against them. The king sent 
commissioners about to inquire into the moral state of the 
monasteries. A large number of scandalous tales were easily 
collected, some of which were undoubtedly true. The 
monks were doubtless often indolent and sometimes wicked. 

1 These were the sufficiency of the bread without the wine for the laity in par- 
taking of the communion ;* the ceUbacy of the clergy ; the perpetual obligation of 
vows to remain unmarried; the propriety of private masses ; and, lastly, of con- 
fession. The act was popularly known as " the whip with six strings." 

* The custom of the Church had long been that the priest alone should partake of 
the wine at communion. The Hussites, and later the Protestants, demanded that the 
laity should receive both the bread and the wine. 

Protestant Revolt in Szvitserland and Eiigland 433 

Nevertheless, they were kind landlords, hospitable to the 
stranger, and good to the poor. The plundering of the smaller 
monasteries, with which the king began, led to a revolt, due to 
a rumor that the king would next proceed to despoil the parish 
churches as well. This gave Henry an excuse for attacking 
the larger monasteries. The abbots and priors who had taken 
part in the revolt were hanged and their monasteries confis- 
cated. Other abbots, panic-stricken, confessed that they and 
their monks had been committing the most loathsome sins and 
asked to be permitted to give up their monasteries to the 
king. The royal commissioners then took possession, sold 
every article upon which they could lay hands, including the 
bells and the lead on the roofs. The picturesque remains of 
the great abbey churches are still among the chief objects of 
interest to the sight-seer in England. The monastery lands 
were, of course, appropriated by the king. They were sold for 
the benefit of the government or given to nobles whose favor 
the king wished to secure. 

Along with the destruction of the monasteries went an Destruction 

attack upon the shrines and images in the churches, which and images 

for the benefit 

were adorned with gold and jewels. The shrine of St. Thomas of the king's 


of Canterbury was destroyed and the bones of the saint were 

burned. An old wooden figure revered in Wales was used to 

make a fire to bum an unfortunate friar who iiiaintained that 

in things spiritual the pope rather than the king should be 

obeyed. These acts suggest the Protestant attacks on images 

which occurred in Germany, Switzerland, and the Netherlands. 

The object of the king and his party was probably in the main 

a mercenary one, although the reason urged for the destruction 

was the superstitious veneration in which the relics and images 

were popularly held. 

Henry's domestic troubles by no means came to an end Henry's third 

marriage and 
with his marriage with Anne Boleyn. Of her, too, he soon the birth of 
• 1 1, r ^ ■ • ,,1, J Edward VI. 

tired, and three years after their marriage he had her executed 


History of Western Europe 

Edward VI 's 





on a series of monstrous charges. The next day he married 
his third wife, Jane Seymour, who was the mother of his son 
and successor, Edward VI. Jane died a few days after her 
son's birth, and later Henry married in succession three 
other women who are historically unimportant since they left 
no children as claimants for the crown. Henry took care that 
his three children, all of whom were destined to reign, should 
be given their due place by act of Parliament in the line of 
inheritance.^ His death in 1547 left the great problem of 
Protestantism and Catholicism to be settled by his son and 

165. While the revolt of England against the ancient Church 
was carried through by the government at a time when the 
greater part of the nation was still Catholic, there was 
undoubtedly, under Henry VIH, an ever-increasing number 
of aggressive and ardent Protestants who applauded the 
change. During the six years of the boy Edward's reign — 
he died in 1553 at the age of sixteen — those in charge of 
the government favored the Protestant party and did what they 
could to change the faith of all the people by bringing Protes- 
tant teachers from the Continent. 

A general demolition of all the sacred images was ordered ; 
even the beautiful stained glass, the glory of the cathedrals, 
was destroyed, because it often represented saints and angels. 
The king was to appoint bishops without troubling to observe 
the old forms of election, and Protestants began to be put 
into the. high offices of the Church. Parliament turned over 
to the king the funds which had been established for the pur- 
pose of having masses chanted for the dead, and decreed that 
thereafter the clergy should be free to marry. 

1 Henry VIII, m. (i) Catherine, m. (2) Anne Boleyn, m. (3) Jane Seymour 

Mary (1553-1558) Elizabeth (i 558-1603) Edward VI (i 547-1553) 

It was arranged that the son was to succeed to the throne. In case he died 
without heirs, Mary and then Elizabeth were to follow. 

Protestant Revolt in Switzerland and England 435 

A prayer-book in English was prepared under the auspices Theprayer- 

of ParHament not very unhke that used in the Church of 'Thirty-Nine 

England to-day. Moreover, forty-two articles of faith were 

drawn up by the government, which were to be the standard 
of beUef for the country. These, in the time of Queen 
Elizabeth, were revised and reduced to the famous "Thirty- 
Nine Articles," which still constitute the creed of the Church 
of England.^ 

The changes in the church services must have sadly shocked Protestant- 
a great part of the English people, who had been accustomed discredited 

... , , . . , by Edward's 

to watch with awe and expectancy the various acts associated ministers, 
with the many church ceremonies and festivals.^ Earnest men 
who watched the misrule of those who conducted Edward's 
government in the name of Protestantism, must have con- 
cluded that the reformers were chiefly intent upon advancing 
their own interests by plundering the Church. We get some 
idea of the desecrations of the time from the fact that Edward 
was forced to forbid "quarreHng and shooting in churches" 
and '' the bringing of horses and mules through the same, 
making God's house like a stable or common inn." Although 
many were heartily in favor of the recent changes it is no 
wonder that after Edward's death there was a revulsion in favor 
of the old religion. 

166. Edward VI was succeeded in 1553 by his half-sister Queen Mary, 
Mary, who had been brought up in the Catholic faith and held and the 
firmly to it. Her ardent hope of bringing her kingdom back reaction, 
once more to her religion did not seem altogether ill-fgunded, 
for the majority of the people were still CathoHcs at heart, and 
many who were not disapproved of the pohcy of Edward's 
ministers, who had removed abuses " in the devil's own way, 
by breaking in pieces." 

1 These may be found in any Book of Common Prayer of the English Church 
or of the Protestant Episcopal Church in the United States. 

2 For an extract from the Bishop of Worcester's diary, recording these 
changes, see Readings^ Chapter XXVII. 


History of Western Europg 

Mary's mar- 
riage with 
Philip II of 

The ' Kneel- 
ing Parlia- 
ment,' 1554. 

of the 

under Mary, 

failure to 
restore the 
religion in 

The Catholic cause appeared, moreover, to be strengthened 
by Mary's marriage with the Spanish prince, PhiUp II, the son 
of the orthodox Charles V. But although Philip later distin- 
guished himself, as we shall see, by the merciless way in which 
he strove to put down heresy, within his realms, he never 
gained any great influence in England. By his marriage with 
Mary he acquired the title of king, but the English took care 
that he should have no hand in the government, nor be per- 
mitted to succeed his wife on the Enghsh throne. 

Mary succeeded in bringing about a nominal reconciliation 
between England and the Roman Church. In 1554 the papal 
legate restored to the communion of the Catholic Church the 
" Kneeling Parliament," which theoretically, of course, rep- 
resented the nation. 

During the last four years of Mary's reign the most serious 
religious persecution in English history occurred. No less 
than 277 persons were put to death for denying the teachings 
of the Roman Church. The majority of the victims were 
humble artisans and husbandmen. The two most notable 
sufferers were Bishops Latimer and Ridley, who were burned 
in Oxford. Latimer cried to his fellow-martyr in the flames : 
" Be of good cheer and play the man ; we shall this day light 
such a candle in England as shall never be put out ! " 

It was Mary's hope and behef that the heretics sent to the 
stake would furnish a terrible warning to the Protestants and 
check the spread of the new teachings, but it fell out as Latimer 
had prophesied. Catholicism was not promoted ; on the con- 
trary, doubters were only convinced of the earnestness of the 
Protestants who could die with such constancy.^ 

1 The Catholics in their turn, it should be noted, suffered serious persecution 
under Elizabeth and James I, the Protestant successors of Mary. Death was 
the penalty fixed in many cases for those who obstinately refused to recognize the 
monarch as the rightful head of the English Church, and heavy fines were imposed 
for the failure to attend Protestant worship. Two hundred Catholic priests are 
said to have been executed under Elizabeth ; others were tortured or perished 
miserably in prison. See below, p. 462, and Green, Short History, pp. 407-410. 




167. There had been many attempts, as we have seen, The con- 
before Luther's appearance, to better the clergy and remedy or catholic 
the evils in the Church without altering its organization or 
teachings. Hopeful progress toward such a conservative 
reform had been made even before the Protestants threw off 
their allegiance to the pope.^ Their revolt inevitably hastened 
and stimulated the reform of the ancient Church, to which 
the greater part of western Europe still remained faithful. 
The Roman Catholic churchmen were aroused to great 
activity by the realization that they could no longer rely 
upon the general acceptance of their teachings. They were 
forced to defend the behefs and ceremonies of their Church 
from the attacks of the Protestants, to whose ranks whole 
countries were deserting. If the clergy were to make head 
against the dreaded heresy which threatened their position 
and power, they must secure the loyalty of the people to them 
and to the great institution which they represented, by lead- 
ing upright lives, giving up the old abuses, and thus regaining 
the confidence of those intrusted to their spiritual care. 

A general council was accordingly summoned at Trent to 
consider once more the remedying of the long recognized 
evils, and to settle authoritatively numerous questions of beUef 
upon which theologians had differed for centuries. New reli- 
gious orders sprang up, whose object was better to prepare the 

1 There is an admirable account of the spirit of the conservative reformers in 
the Cambridge Modern History^ Vol. I, Chapter XVIII. 



History of Western Europe 

Charles V's 
confidence in 
the settle- 
ment of the 
differences by 
a council. 

priests for their work and to bring home rehgion to the hearts 
of the people. Energetic measures were taken to repress the 
growth of heresy in countries which were still Roman Catholic 
and to prevent the dissemination of Protestant doctrines in 
books and pamphlets. Above all, better men were placed in 
office, from the pope down. The cardinals, for example, were 
no longer merely humanists and courtiers, but among them 
might be found the leaders of religious thought in Italy. Many 
practices which had formerly irritated the people were per- 
manently abolished. These measures resulted in a remarkable 
reformation of the ancient Church, such as the Council of 
Constance had striven in vain to bring about.^ Before turn- 
ing to the terrible struggles between the two religious parties 
in the Netherlands and France during the latter half of the 
sixteenth century, a word must be said of the Council of Trent 
and of an extraordinarily powerful new religious order, the 

Charles V, who did not fully grasp the irreconcilable differ- 
ences between Protestant and CathoHc behefs, made repeated 
efforts to bring the two parties together by ordering the Prot- 
estants to accept what seemed to him a simple statement of 
the Christian faith. He had great confidence that if repre- 
sentatives of the old and the new beliefs could meet one 
another in a church council all points of disagreement might 
be amicably settled. The pope was, however, reluctant to see 
a council summoned in Germany, for he had by no means 
forgotten the conduct of the Council of Basel. To call the 
German Protestants into Italy, on the other hand, would have 
been useless, for none of them would have responded or 

1 Protestant writers commonly call the reformation of the mediaeval Catholic 
Church the " counter-reformation " or " Catholic reaction," as if Protestantism 
were entirely responsible for it. It is clear, however, that the conservative 
reform began some time before the Protestants revolted. Their secession 
from the Church only stimulated a movement already well under way. See 
Maurenbrecher, Geschichte der Katholischeyi Reformation. 

The Catholic Reformation — Philip II 439 

have paid any attention to the decisions of a body which 
would appear to them to be under the pope's immediate 
control. It was only after years of delay that in 1545, 
just before Luther's death, a general council finally met in 
the city of Trent, on the border between Germany and 

As the German Protestants were preoccupied at the The council 

1 1 • n- • 1 , 1 0* Trent, 

moment by an approachmg conflict with the emperor and, 1545-1563, 

, . r ^ • r i -i, • , sanctions thc 

moreover, hoped for nothing from the councils action, they teaching of 

1-1 1 . . „ , , , the Roman 

did not attend its sessions. Consequently the papal represen- catholic 

tatives and the Roman Catholic prelates were masters of the 
situation. The council immediately took up just those matters 
in which the Protestants had departed farthest from the old 
beliefs. In its early sessions it proclaimed all those accursed 
who taught that the sinner was saved by faith alone, or who 
questioned man's power, with God's aid, to forward his salva- 
tion by good works. Moreover, it declared that if any one 
should say — as did the Protestants — that the sacraments 
were not all instituted by Christ ; " or that they are more or 
less than seven, to wit, Baptism, Confirmation, the Eucharist, 
Penance, Extreme Unction, Ordination, and Matrimony; or 
even that any one of these is not truly and properly a sacra- 
ment, let him be accursed." The ancient Latin translation of 
the Bible — the Vulgate — was fixed as the standard. No 
one should presume to question its accuracy so far as doctrine 
was concerned, or be permitted to pubHsh any interpretation 
of the Bible differing from that of the Church. 

While the council thus finally rejected any possibility of Reform 
. , , _, . , , measures 

compromise with the Protestants, it took measures to do away of the 

with the abuses of which the Protestants complained. The 

bishops were ordered to reside in their respective dioceses, to 

preach regularly, and to see that those who were appointed to 

church benefices should fulfill the duties of their offices and 

not merely enjoy the revenue. Measures were also taken to 



History of Western Europe 

sessions of 
the Council 
of Trent, 

of the 

Loyola, 1491- 
1556, the 
founder of 
the Jesuits. 

improve education and secure the regular reading of the Bible 
in churches, monasteries, and schools. 

When the council had been in session for something more 
than a year, its meetings were interrupted by various unfavor- 
able conditions. Little was accomplished for a number of years, 
but in 1562 the members once more reassembled to prosecute 
their work with renewed vigor. Many more of the doctrines 
of the Roman Church in regard to which there had been 
some uncertainty, were carefully defined, and the teachings of 
the heretics explicitly rejected. A large number of decrees 
directed against existing abuses were also ratified. The Cano7is 
and Decrees of the Coimcil of Trent, which fill a stout volume, 
provided a new and solid foundation for the law and doctrine 
of the Roman Catholic Church, and they constitute an historical 
source of the, utmost importance.-^ They furnish, in fact, our 
most complete and authentic statement of the Roman Catholic 
form of Christianity. They, however, only restate long-accepted 
beliefs and sanction the organization of the Church briefly 
described in an earUer chapter (XVI). 

168. Among those who, during the final sessions of the 
council, sturdily opposed every attempt to reduce in any way 
the exalted powers of the pope, was the head of a new religious 
society, which was becoming the most powerful organization 
in Europe. The Jesuit order, or Society of Jesus, was founded 
by a Spaniard, Ignatius Loyola. He had been a soldier in 
his younger days, and while bravely fighting for his king, 
Charles V, had been wounded by a cannon ball (152 1). 
Obliged to lie inactive for weeks, he occupied his time in 
reading the lives of the saints, and became filled with a burn- 
ing ambition to emulate their deeds. Upon recovering he 
dedicated himself to the service of the Lord, donned a beggar's 

1 They may be had in English, Decrees and Canons of the Council of Trent, 
translated by Rev. J. Waterworth, London and New York. See extracts from 
the acts of the council in Translations and Reprints, Vol. II, No. 6. 

TJie Catholic Reformation — Philip II 441 

gown, and started on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When there 
he began to realize that he could do Uttle without an educa- 
tion. So he returned to Spain and, although already thirty- 
three years old, took his place beside the boys who were 
learning the elements of Latin grammar. After tvvo years he 
entered a Spanish university, and later went to Paris to carry 
on his theological studies. 

In Paris he sought to influence his fellow-students at the 
university, and finally, in 1534, seven of his companions 
agreed to follow him to Palestine, or, if they were prevented 
from that, to devote themselves to the service of the pope. 
On arriving in Venice they found that war had broken out 
between that repubhc and the Turks. They accordingly gave 
up their plan for converting the infidels in the Orient and, 
with the pope's permission, began to preach in the neighboring 
towns, explaining the Scriptures and bringing comfort to those 
in the hospitals. When asked to what order they belonged, 
they rephed, "to the Society of Jesus." 

In 1538 Loyola summoned his disciples to Rome, and there Rigid organ- 

they worked out the principles of their order. The pope then discipline of 
1 , . 1 11 . 1-11 1 • • the Jesuits, 

mcorporated these in a bull m which he gave his sanction to 

the new society.^ The organization was to be under the 
absolute control of a general, who was to be chosen for life by 
the general assembly of the order. Loyola had been a soldier, 
and he laid great and constant stress upon the source of all 
efficient military discipline, namely, absolute and unquestion- 
ing obedience. This he declared to be the mother of all 
virtue and happiness. Not only were all the members to 
obey the pope as Christ's representative on earth, and under- 
take without hesitation any journey, no ma'^ter how distant or 
perilous, which he might command, but each was to obey his 
superiors in the order as if he were receiving directions from 
Christ in person. He must have no will or preference of his 

1 See Readings, Chapter XXVIII. 


History of Western Europe 

Objects and 
methods of 
the new 

Rapid in- 
crease of the 
Jesuits in 

Their mis- 
sions and 

own, but must be as the staff which supports and aids its bearer 
in any way in which he sees fit to use it. This admirable organi- 
zation and incomparable discipline were the great secret of the 
later influence of the Jesuits. 

The object of the society was to cultivate piety and the 
love of God, especially through example. The members were 
to pledge themselves to lead a pure hfe of poverty and devo- 
tion. Their humility was to show itself in face and attitude, so 
that their very appearance should attract those with whom 
they came in contact to the service of God. The methods 
adopted by the society for reaching its ends are of the utmost 
importance. A great number of its members were priests, who 
went about preaching, hearing confession, and encouraging 
devotional exercises. But the Jesuits were teachers as well 
as preachers and confessors. They clearly perceived the 
advantage of bringing young people under their influence, and 
they became the schoolmasters of Catholic Europe. So suc- 
cessful were their methods of instruction that even Protestants 
sometimes sent their children to them. 

It was originally proposed that the number of persons 
admitted to the order should not exceed sixty, but this limit 
was speedily removed, and before the death of Loyola over 
a thousand persons had joined the society. Under his suc- 
cessor the number was trebled, and it went on increasing for 
two centuries. The founder of the order had been, as we 
have seen, attracted to missionary work from the first, and the 
Jesuits rapidly spread not only over Europe, but throughout 
the whole world. Francis Xavier, one of Loyola's original 
little band, went to Hindustan, the Moluccas, and Japan. 
Brazil, Florida, Mexico, and Peru were soon fields of active 
missionary work at a time when Protestants scarcely dreamed 
as yet of carrying Christianity to the heathen. We owe to the 
Jesuits' reports much of our knowledge of the condition of 
America when white men first began to explore Canada and 

The Catholic Reformation — Philip II 443 

the Mississippi valley, for the followers of Loyola boldly 

penetrated into regions unknown to Europeans, and settled ^ 

among the natives with the purpose of bringing the Gospel 

to them.^ 

Dedicated as they were to the service of the pope, the Jesu- Their fight 
•^ ^ ^ ' •' against the 

its early directed their energies against Protestantism. They Protestants. 

sent their members into Germany and the Netherlands, and 
even made strenuous efforts to reclaim England. Their 
success was most apparent in southern Germany and Austria, 
where they became the confessors and confidential advisers of 
the rulers. They not only succeeded in checking the prog- 
ress of Protestantism, but were able to reconquer for the pope 
districts in which the old faith had been abandoned. 

Protestants soon realized that the new order was their Accusations 

most powerful and dangerous enemy. Their apprehensions against the 

produced a bitter hatred which blinded them to the high pur- 
poses of the founders of the order and led them to attribute an 
evil purpose to every act of the Jesuits. The Jesuits' air of 
humility the Protestants declared to be mere hypocrisy under 
which they carried on their intrigues. The Jesuits' readiness 
to adjust themselves to circumstances and the variety of the 
tasks that they undertook seemed to their enemies a willing- 
ness to resort to any means in order to reach their ends. 
They were popularly supposed to justify the most deceitful 
and immoral measures on the ground that the result would 
be " for the greater glory of God." The very obedience of 
which the Jesuits said so much was viewed by the hostile 
Protestant as one of their worst offenses, for he believed that 
the members of the order were the bUnd tools of their supe- 
riors and that they would not hesitate even to commit a 
crime if so ordered. 

Doubtless there have been many unscrupulous Jesuits and Decline and 

"^ 11 J abolition 

some wicked ones, and as time went on the order degenerated of the 

Jesuits, 1773. 
1 Reference, Parkman's/^jwzV^ in North America, Vol. I, Chapters II and X. 


History of Western Europe 

ment of the 
order, 1814. 

Philip II, the 
chief enemy 
of Protes- 
among the 
rulers of 
Europe . 

Division of 
the Hapsburg 
between the 
German and 

just as the earlier ones had done. In the eighteenth century it 
undertook great commercial enterprises, and for this and other 
reasons lost the confidence and respect of even the Catholics. 
The king of Portugal was the first to banish the Jesuits from 
his kingdom, and then France, where they had long been very 
unpopular with an influential party of the Catholics, expelled 
them in 1764. Convinced that the order had outgrown its 
usefulness, the pope abolished it in 1773. It was, however, 
restored in 18 14, and now again has thousands of members. 

169. The chief ally of the pope and the Jesuits in their 
efforts to check Protestantism in the latter half of the six- 
teenth century was the son of Charles V, Philip II. Like the 
Jesuits he enjoys a most unenviable reputation among Protes- 
tants. Certain it is that they had no more terrible enemy 

among the rulers of the day 
than he. He closely watched 
the course of affairs in France 
and Germany with the hope 
of promoting the cause of the 
Catholics. He eagerly for- 
warded every conspiracy 
against England's Protestant 
queen, Elizabeth, and finally 
manned a mighty fleet with 
the purpose of overthrowing 
her. He resorted, morever, 
to incredible cruelty in his 
attempts to bring back his 
possessions in the Netherlands 
to what he considered the true faith. 

Charles V, crippled with the gout and old before his time, 
laid down the cares of government in 1555— 1556. To his 
brother Ferdinand, who had acquired by marriage the 
kingdoms of Bohemia and Hungary, Charles had earlier 

Philip II of Spain 


The CatJiolic Reforestation — Philip II 445 

transferred the German possessions of the Hapsburgs. To his 
son, PhiHp II (15 5 6-1 5 98), he gave Spain with its great 
American colonies, Milan, the kingdom of the Two Sicihes, 
and the Netherlands.^ 

Charles had constantly striven to maintain the old religion Philip irs 
•^ ■ . fervent 

within his dominions. He had never hesitated to use the Inqui- desire to 

stamp out 
sition in Spain and the Netherlands, and it was the great dis- Protestant- 
appointment of his hfe that a part of his empire had become 
Protestant. He was, nevertheless, no fanatic. Like many of 
the princes of the time, he was forced to take sides on the 
religious question without, perhaps, himself having any deep 
religious sentiments. The maintenance of the Catholic faith 
he believed to be necessary in order that he should keep his 
hold upon his scattered and diverse dominions. On the 
other hand, the whole Hfe and poHcy of his son Philip were 
guided by a fervent attachment to the old religion. He was 
willing to sacrifice both himself and his country in his long 
fight against the detested Protestants within and without his 
realms. And he had vast resources at his disposal, for Spain 
was a strong power, not only on account of her income from 
America, but also because her soldiers and their commanders 
were the best in Europe at this period. 

1 Division of the Hapsburg Possessions between the Spanish 
AND THE German Branches 

Maximilian I (d. i5i9),m. Mary of Burgundy (d. 1482) 

Philip (d. 1506), m. Joanna the Insane (d. 1555) 

Charles V (d. 1558) Ferdinand (d. 1564), m. Anna, heiress to kingdoms 

Emperor, 1519-1556 Emperor, 1556-1564 1 of Bohemia and Hungary 

Philip II (d. 1598) Maximilian II (d. 1576) 

inherits Spain, the Netherlands, Emperor, and inherits Bohemia, 

and the Italian possessions of Hungary, and the Austrian pos- 

the Hapsburgs sessions of the Hapsburgs 

The map of Europe in the sixteenth century (see above, p. 372) indicates the 
vast extent of the combined possessions of the Spanish and German Hapsburgs. 


History of Western Europe 

The Nether- 

Philip II 's 
harsh atti- 
tude toward 
the Nether- 

170. The Netherlands,^ which were to cause PhiHp his 
first and greatest trouble, included seventeen provinces which 
Charles V had inherited from his grandmother, Mary of 
Burgundy. They occupied the position on the map where we 
now find the kingdoms of Holland and Belgium. Each of the 
provinces had its own government, but Charles had grouped 
them together and arranged that the German empire should 
protect them. In the north the hardy Germanic population 
had been able, by means of dikes which kept out the sea, to 
reclaim large tracts of lowlands. Here considerable cities had 
grown up, — Harlem, Leyden, Amsterdam, and Rotterdam. 
To the south were the flourishing towns of Ghent, Bruges, 
Brussels, and Antwerp, which had for hundreds of years been 
centers of manufacture and trade. 

Charles, in spite of some very harsh measures, had retained 
the loyalty of the people of the Netherlands, for he was him- 
self one of them and they felt a patriotic pride in his 
achievements. Toward Philip their attitude was very different. 
His sour face and haughty manner made a disagreeable impres- 
sion upon the people at Brussels when Charles V first intro- 
duced him to them as their future ruler. He was to them a 
Spaniard and a foreigner, and he ruled them as such after 
he returned to Spain. Instead of attempting to win them by 
meeting their legitimate demands, he did everything to alien- 
ate all classes in his Burgundian realm and increase their natural 
hatred and suspicion of the Spaniards. The people were forced 
to house Spanish soldiers whose insolence drove them nearly 
to desperation. A half-sister of the king, the duchess of 
Parma, who did not even know their language, was given to 
them as their regent. Philip put his trust in a group of 
upstarts rather than in the nobiHty of the provinces, who 
naturally felt that they should be given some part in the 
direction of affairs. 

1 Reference, Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Century, Chapter VIII. 

The Catholic Reformation — Philip II 447 

What was still worse, Philip proposed that the Inquisition Theinqui- 
should carry on its work far more actively than hitherto and Netherlands, 
put an end to the heresy which appeared to him to defile his 
fair realms. The Inquisition was no new thing to the prov- 
inces. Charles V had issued the most cruel edicts against 
the followers of Luther, Zwingli, and Calvin. According to a * 
law of 1550, heretics who persistently refused to recant were 
to be burned alive. Even those who confessed their errors 
and abjured their heresy were, if men, to lose their heads, if 
women, to be buried aHve. In both cases their property was 
to be confiscated. The lowest estimate of those who were exe- 
cuted in the Netherlands during Charles' reign is fifty thou- 
sand. Although these terrible laws had not checked the 
growth of Protestantism, all of Charles' decrees were sol- 
emnly reenacted by Philip in the first month of his reign. 

For ten years the people suffered Philip's rule ; but their Protest 

king, instead of listening to the protests of their leaders who Philip's 

were quite as earnest Catholics as himself, appeared to be 

bent on the destruction of the land. So in 1566 some five 
hundred of the nobles, who were later joined by many of 
the citizens, ;gledged themselves to make a common stand 
against Spanish tyranny and the Inquisition. Although they 
had no idea as yet of a revolt, they planned a great demon- 
stration during which they presented a petition to the duchess 
of Parma requesting the suspension of the king's edicts. The 
story is that one of the duchess' councilors assured her that 

she had no reason to fear these "beggars." This name was The* Beg- 

voluntarily assumed by the petitioners and an important 

group of the insurgents in the later troubles were known as 

" Beggars." 

The Protestant preachers now took courage, and large con- The image- 

gregations gathered in the fields to hear them. Excited by Protestants. 

their exhortations, those who were converted to the new 

religion rushed into the Catholic churches, tore down the 


History of Western Europe 

Philip sends 
the duke of 
Alva to the 

Alva's cruel 
tion, 1567- 

The Council 
of Blood. 

William of 
called the 
Silent, 1533- 

images, broke the stained glass windows, and wrecked the 
altars. The duchess of Parma was just succeeding in quiet- 
ing the tumult when Philip took a step which led finally to the 
revolt of the Netherlands. He decided to dispatch to the 
low countries the remorseless duke of Alva, whose conduct 
has made his name synonymous with blind and unmeasured 

171. The report that Alva was coming caused the flight of 
many of those who especially feared his approach. William 
of Orange, who was to be the leader in the approaching war 
against Spain, went to Germany. Thousands of Flemish 
weavers fled across the North Sea, and the products of their 
looms became before long an important article of export from 

Alva brought with him a fine army of Spanish soldiers, ten 
thousand in number and superbly equipped. He judged that 
the wisest and quickest way of pacifying the discontented 
provinces was to kill all those who ventured to criticise " the 
best of kings," of whom he had the honor to be the faithful 
servant. He accordingly established a special court for the 
speedy trial and condemnation of all those wl^ose fidelity to 
PhiUp was suspected. This was popularly known as the 
Council of Blood, for its aim was not justice but butchery. 
Alva's administration from 1567 to 1573 was a veritable reign 
of terror. He afterwards boasted that he had slain eighteen 
thousand, but probably not more than a third of that number 
were really executed. 

The Netherlands found a leader in William, Prince of 
Orange and Count of Nassau. He is a national hero whose 
career bears a striking resemblance to that of Washington. 
Like the American patriot, he undertook the seemingly hope- 
less task of freeing his people from the oppressive rule of a 
distant king. To the Spaniards he appeared to be only an 
impoverished nobleman at the head of a handful of armed 

TJie Catholic Reformation — Philip II 449 

peasants and fishermen, contending against the sovereign of 
the richest realm in the world. 

William had been a faithful servant of Charles V and would wiiiiam the 
gladly have continued to serve his son after him had the lectsan 
oppression and injustice of the Spanish dominion not become ^ ^' 
intolerable. But Alva's policy convinced him that it was use- 
less to send any more complaints to Philip. He accordingly 
collected a little army in 1568 and opened the long struggle 
with Spain. 

William found his main support in the northern provinces, Differences 
of which Holland was the chief. The Dutch, who had very northern 
generally accepted Protestant teachings, were purely German provinces and 
in blood, while the people of the southern provinces, who 
adhered (as they still do) to the Roman Catholic faith, were 
more akin to the population of northern France. 

The Spanish soldiers found little trouble in defeating the William 

troops which William collected. Like Washington asrain, he governor of 
, , , , , 1 o o » Holland and 

seemed to lose almost every battle and yet was never con- Zealand, 

quered. The first successes of the Dutch were gained by the 

"sea beggars," — freebooters who captured Spanish ships and 

sold them in Protestant England. Finally they seized the 

town of Brille and made it their headquarters. Encouraged by 

this, many of the towns in the northern provinces of Holland 

and Zealand ventured to choose William as their governor, 

although they did not throw off their allegiance to Philip. 

In this way these two provinces became the nucleus of the 

United Netherlands. 

Alva recaptured a number of the revolted towns and Both the 
,,..,,. ■ , , . 1 northern and 

treated their inhabitants with his customary cruelty; even southern 

women and children were slaughtered in cold blood. But combine 

instead of quenching the rebellion, he aroused even the Catho- Spain, 1576. 

lie southern provinces to revolt. He introduced an unwise 

system of taxation which required that ten per cent of the 

proceeds of every sale should be paid to the government. 

45 o History of Western Europe 

This caused the thrifty CathoHc merchants of the southern 
towns to close their shops in despair. 
The ' Spanish After six years of this tyrannical and mistaken policy, Alva 
^^' was recalled. His successor soon died and left matters worse 

than ever. The leaderless soldiers, trained in Alva's school, 
indulged in wild orgies of robbery and murder; they plun- 
dered and partially reduced to ashes the rich city of Antwerp. 
The " Spanish fury," as this outbreak was called, together with 
the hated taxes, created such general indignation that repre- 
sentatives from all of Philip's Burgundian provinces met at 
Ghent in 1576 with the purpose of combining to put an end 
to the Spanish tyranny. 
The Union This union was, however, only temporary. Wiser and more 

moderate governors were sent by Philip to the Netherlands, 
and they soon succeeded in again winning the confidence 
of the southern provinces. So the northern provinces went 
their own way. Guided by William the Silent, they refused to 
consider the idea of again recognizing Philip as their king. In 
1579 seven provinces (Holland, Zealand, Utrecht, Gelderland, 
Overyssel, Groningen, and Friesland, all lying north of the 
mouths of the Rhine and the Scheldt) formed the new and 

The northern firmer Union of Utrecht. The articles of this union served as 

provinces .. _ , ^_.,_^ . ... 

declare a constitution for the United Provinces which, two years 

independent later, at last formally declared themselves independent of 

of Spain, 

1581. Spam. 

Assassina- Philip realized that William was the soul of the revolt and 

tion of , . , ... . , . 1111 1 

William that without him it might not improbably have been put 

the Silent. , rr., 1 • 1 r rr 1 ^ 1 -i- 1 

down. The king therefore onered a patent 01 nobility and 

a large sum of money to any one who should make way with 
the Dutch patriot. After several unsuccessful attempts, Wil- 
liam, who had been chosen hereditary governor of the United 
Provinces, was shot in his house at Delft, 1584. He died 
praying the Lord to have pity upon his soul and " on this 
poor people." 

The Catholic Reformation — Philip II 451 

The Dutch had long hoped for aid from Queen EUzabeth or Reasons why 

from the French, but had heretofore been disappointed. At finally won 

last the English queen decided to send troops to their assistance, pendence. 

While the English rendered but little actual help, Elizabeth's 

policy so enraged Philip that he at last decided to attempt the 

conquest of England. The destruction of the great fleet which 

he equipped for that purpose interfered with further attempts 

to subjugate the United Provinces, which might otherwise have 

failed to preserve their liberty in spite of their heroic resistance. 

Moreover, Spain's resources were being rapidly exhausted and 

the state was on the verge of bankruptcy in spite of the wealth 

which it had been drawing from across the sea. But even independence 

of the United 
when Spain had to surrender the hope of winning back the lost Provinces 
• 1 . , 1 f, acknowl- 

provinces, which now became a small but important European edged by 

power, she refused formally to acknowledge their independence 

until 1648^ (Peace of Westphalia). 

172. The history of France during the latter part of the 

sixteenth century is little more than a chronicle of a long and 

bloody series of civil wars between the Catholics and Protestants. 

Each party, however, had political as well as religious objects, 

and the religious issues were often almost altogether obscured 

by the worldly ambition of the leaders. 

Protestantism began in France ^ in much the same way as Beginnings 

° -' ofProtes- 

in England. Those who had learned from the Italians to tantismin 

° . France, 

love the Greek language, turned to the New Testament in 

the original and commenced to study it with new insight. 

1 It is impossible in so brief an account to relate the heroic deeds of the Dutch, 
such, for example, as the famous defence of Leyden. The American historian 
Motley gives a vivid description of this in his well-known Rise of the Dutch 
Republic, Part IV, Chapter II. The most recent and authoritative account of 
the manner in which the Dutch won their independence is to be found in the 
third volume of A History of the People of the Netherlands, by the Dutch scholar 
Blok, translated by Ruth Putnam (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 3 vols., ^7.50). Miss 
Putnam's own charming William the Silent (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2 vols., with 
many fine illustrations, ^3.75) gives an impressive picture of the tremendous odds 
which he faced and of his marvellous patience and perseverance. 

2 Reference, Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Century, pp. 386-389. 


History of Western Europe 


of the Protes- 
tants under 
Francis I. 

Massacre of 
the Walden- 

Henry II, 

Francis II, 
Mary, Queen 
of Scots, and 
the Guises. 

Lefevre, the most conspicuous of these Erasmus-like reform- 
ers, translated the Bible into French and began to preach 
justification by faith before he had ever heard of Luther. He 
and his followers won the favor of Margaret, the sister of 
Francis I and queen of the little kingdom of Navarre, and 
under her protection they were left unmolested for some years. 
The Sorbonne, the famous theological school at Paris, finally 
stirred up the suspicions of the king against the new ideas. 
While, like his fellow-monarchs, Francis had no special interest 
in religious matters, he was shocked by an act of desecration 
ascribed to the Protestants, and in consequence forbade the cir- 
culation of Protestant books. About 1535 several adherents 
of the new faith were burned, and Calvin was forced to flee to 
Basel, where he prepared a defense of his beHefs in his Insti- 
tutes of Christianity. This is prefaced by a letter to Francis in 
which he pleads with him to protect the Protestants.^ Francis, 
before his death, became so intolerant that he ordered the 
massacre of three thousand defenseless peasants who dwelt on 
the slopes of the Alps, and whose only offense was adherence 
to the simple teachings of the Waldensians.^ 

Francis' son, Henry H (1547-15 59), swore to extirpate the 
Protestants, and hundreds of them were burned. Nevertheless, 
Henry's religious convictions did not prevent him from willingly 
aiding the German Protestants against his enemy Charles V, 
especially when they agreed to hand over to him three bishop- 
rics which lay on the French boundary, — Metz, Verdun, and 

Henry H was accidentally killed in a tourney and left his 
kingdom to three weak sons, the last scions of the house of 
Valois, who succeeded in turn to the throne during a period 
of unprecedented civil war and public calamity. The eldest 
son, Francis II, a boy of sixteen, succeeded his father. His 
chief importance for France arose from his marriage with the 

1 See Readings^ Chapter XXVIII. 2 See above, p. 221. 

The Catholic Reformation — Philip II 453 

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History of Western Europe 

The queen 
de' Medici. 

The Bour- 

The Hugue- 
nots and 
their political 

grants con- 
to the 


daughter of King James V of Scotland, Mary Stuart, who became 
famous as Mary, Queen of Scots. Her mother was the sister 
of two very ambitious French nobles, the duke of Guise and 
the cardinal of Lorraine. Francis II was so young that Mary's 
uncles, the Guises, eagerly seized the opportunity to manage 
his affairs for him. The duke put himself at the head of the 
army, and the cardinal of the government. When the king 
died, after reigning but a year, the Guises were naturally reluc- 
tant to surrender their power, and many of the woes of France 
for the next forty years were due to the machinations which 
they carried on in the name of the Holy Catholic religion. 

173. The new king, Charles IX (15 60-1 5 74), was but ten 
years old, and his mother, Catherine de' Medici, of the famous 
Florentine family, claimed the right to conduct the government 
for her son. The rivalries of the time were complicated by the 
existence of a younger branch of the French royal family, 
namely, the Bourbons, one of whom was king of Navarre. The 
Bourbons formed an alliance with the Huguenots,^ as the French 
Calvinists were called. 

Many of the leading Huguenots, including their chief 
Coligny, belonged to noble families and were anxious to play 
a part in the politics of the time. This fact tended to confuse 
religious with political motives. In the long run this mixture 
of motives proved fatal to the Protestant cause in France, but 
for the time being the Huguenots formed so strong a party that 
they threatened to get control of the government. 

Catherine tried at first to conciliate both parties, and granted 
a Decree of Toleration (1562) suspending the former edicts 
against the Protestants and permitting them to assemble for 
worship during the daytime and outside of the towns. Even 
this restricted toleration of the Protestants appeared an abomi- 
nation to the more fanatical Catholics, and a savage act of the 
duke of Guise precipitated civil war. 

1 The origin of this name is uncertain. 

The CatJiolic Reformation — Philip II 455 

As he was passing through the town of Vassy on a Sunday The massa- 
he found a thousand Huguenots assembled in a barn for wor- and the 
ship. The duke's followers rudely interrupted the service, and the wars 
a tumult arose in which the troops killed a considerable num- 
ber of the defenseless multitude. The news of this massacre 
aroused the Huguenots and was the beginning of a war which 
continued, broken only by short truces, until the last weak 
descendant of the house of Valois ceased to reign. As in the 
other rehgious wars of the time, both sides exhibited the most 
inhuman cruelty. France was filled for a generation with 
burnings, pillage, and every form of barbarity. The leaders 
of both the CathoHc and the Protestant party, as well as two of 
the French kings themselves, fell by the hands of assassins, 
and France renewed in civil war all the horrors of the English 
invasion in the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries. 

In 1570 a brief peace was concluded. The Huguenots were Coiignys 

. , , 1 . -11 influence and 

to be tolerated, and certam towns were assigned to them, plan for a 

IT -iTrii • national war 

mcludinsf La Rochelle, where they might defend themselves in against 

r -, \ r , ^ ? 1- T. • -, , Philip II. 

case of renewed attacks from the Catholics. For a time both 
the king and the queen mother were on the friendliest terms 
with the Huguenot leader Cohgny, who became a sort of prime 
minister. He was anxious that Catholics and Protestants 
should join in a great national war against Spain. In this way 
the people of France would combine, regardless of their differ- 
ences in religion, in a patriotic effort to win the county of 
Burgundy and a line of fortresses to the north and east, which 
seemed naturally to belong to France rather than to Spain. 
Coligny did not, of course, overlook the consideration that in 
this way he could aid the Protestant cause in the Netherlands. 

The strict CathoHc party of the Guises frustrated this plan The massacre 
by a most fearful expedient. They easily induced Catherine thoiomew's 

de' Medici to believe that she was being deceived by Coligny, 
and an assassin was engaged to put him out of the way ; but 
the scoundrel missed his aim and only wounded his victim. 

Day, 1572. 


History of Western Europe 

The Holy 

Question of 
the suc- 
cession to 
the French 

War of the 
Three Henrys, 

Fearful lest the young king, who was faithful to Coligny, 
should discover her part in the attempted murder, the queen 
mother invented a story of a great Huguenot conspiracy. The 
credulous king was deceived, and the Catholic leaders at Paris 
arranged that at a given signal not only Coligny, but all the 
Huguenots, who had gathered in great numbers in the city to 
witness the marriage of the Protestant Henry of Navarre with 
the king's sister, should be massacred on the eve of St. Bar- 
tholomew's Day (August 23,» 1572). 

The signal was duly given, and no less than two thousand 
persons were ruthlessly murdered in Paris before the end of 
the next day. The news of this attack spread into the prov- 
inces and it is probable that, at the very least, ten thousand 
more Protestants were put to death outside of the capital. 
Both the pope and Philip H expressed their gratificadon at 
this signal example of French loyalty to the Church. Civil 
war again broke out, and the Catholics formed the famous 
Holy League, under the leadership of Henry of Guise, for the 
advancement of their interests and the extirpation of heresy. 

Henry IH (1574-1589), the last of the sons of Henry H, 
who succeeded Charles IX, had no heirs, and the great question 
of succession arose. The Huguenot, Henry of Navarre, was the 
nearest male relative, but the League could never consent to per- 
mit the throne of France to be sullied by heresy, especially as 
their leader, Henry of Guise, was himself anxious to become king. 

Henry HI was driven weakly from one party to the other, 
and it finally came to a war between the three Henrys, — 
Henry HI, Henry of Navarre, and Henry of Guise (15 85-1 5 89). 
It ended in a characteristic way. Henry the king had Henry 
of Guise assassinated. The sympathizers of the League then 
assassinated Henry the king, which left the field to Henry of 
Navarre. He ascended the throne as Henry IV ^ in 1589, and 
is an heroic figure in the line of French kings. 

1 Reference for Henry IV, Wakeman, Eitrofe from ijq8-i7i.5, Chapter I. 

The Catholic Reformation — Philip II 457 

174. The new king had many enemies, and his kingdom Henry iv, 

was devastated and demoralized by years of war. He soon saw becomes a 

r 1 • . r 1 • 1 Catholic, 

that he must accept the rehgion of the majority of his people 

if he wished to reign over them. He accordingly asked to be 

readmitted to the Catholic Church (1593), excusing himself 

on the ground that " Paris was worth a mass." He did not 

forget his old friends, however, and in 1598 he issued the 

Edict of Nantes. 

By this edict of toleration the Calvinists were permitted to The Edict of 
hold services in all the towns and villages where they had 
previously held them, but in Paris and a number of other 
towns all Protestant services were prohibited. The Protes- 
tants were to enjoy the same political rights as Catholics, 
and to be eligible to public office. A number of fortified 
towns were to remain in the hands of the Huguenots, par- 
ticularly La Rochelle, Montauban, and Nimes. Henry's 
only mistake lay in granting the Huguenots the exceptional 
privilege of holding and governing fortified towns. In the 
next generation, this privilege aroused the suspicion of the 
king's minister, Richelieu, who attacked the Huguenots, not 
so much on religious grounds, as on account of their independ- 
ent position in the state, which suggested that of the older 
feudal nobles. 

Henry IV chose Sully, an upright and able Calvinist, for his Ministry of 
chief minister. Sully set to work to reestablish the kingly 
power, which had suffered greatly under the last three brothers 
of the house of Valois. He undertook to lighten^the tremen- 
dous burden of debt which weighed upon the country. He 
laid out new roads and canals, and encouraged agriculture 
and commerce ; he dismissed the useless noblemen and officers 
whom the government was supporting without any advantage 
to itself. Had his administration not been prematurely inter- 
rupted, France might have reached unprecedented power and 
prosperity ; but religious fanaticism put an end to his reforms. 


History of VVcstcni Europe 

of Henry IV, 

under Eliza- 
beth, 1558- 

restores the 

In 1 6 10 Henry IV, like William the Silent, was assassinated 
just in the midst of his greatest usefulness to his country. 
Sully could not agree with the regent, Henry's widow, and 
retired to his castle, where he dictated his memoirs, which give 
a remarkable account of the stirring times in which he had 
played so important a part. Before many years, Richelieu, per- 
haps the greatest minister France has ever had, rose to power, 
and from 1624 to his death in 1642 he governed France for 
Henry's son, Louis XIII (1610-1643). Something will be said 
of his policy in connection with the Thirty Years' War.^ 

175* The long and disastrous civil war between Catholics 
and Protestants, which desolated France in the sixteenth cen- 
tury, had happily no counterpart in England. During her 
long and wise reign Queen Elizabeth^ succeeded not only in 
maintaining peace at home, but in frustrating the conspiracies 
and attacks of Philip II, which threatened her realm from 
without. Moreover, by her interference in the Netherlands, 
she did much to secure their independence of Spain. 

Upon the death of Catholic Mary and the accession of her 
sister Elizabeth in 1558, the EngHsh government became once 
more Protestant. Undoubtedly a great majority of Elizabeth's 
subjects would have been satisfied to have had her return to the 
policy of her father, Henry VIII. They still venerated the 
Mass and the other ancient ceremonies, although they had no 
desire to acknowledge the supremacy of the pope over their 
country. Elizabeth believed, however, that Protestantism 
would finallv prevail. She therefore reintroduced the Book 
of Prayer of Edward VI, with some modifications, and pro- 
posed that all her subjects should conform in public to the 
form of worship sanctioned by the state. Elizabeth did not 
adopt the Presbyterian organization, which had a good many 

1 Reference, Schwill, History of Moder7t Europe, Chapter VI, or a somewhat 
fuller account in Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Ccjttury, Chapter IX. 

2 Reference, Green, Short History, pp. 370-376, 392-405. 

The Catholic Reformation — Philip II 459 

advocates, but retained the old system of church government 

with its archbishops, bishops, deans, etc. Naturally, however, 

Protestant clergymen were substituted for the Catholics who 

had held office under Mary. Elizabeth's first Parliament gave 

to the queen the power though not the title of supreme head 

of the English church. 

Elizabeth's position in regard to the religious question was Presbyterian 

first threatened by events in Scotland. There, shortly after established 

.in Scotland, 
her accession, the ancient Church was abolished, largely in 

the interest of the nobles, who were anxious to get the lands 

of the bishops into their own hands and enjoy the revenue from 

them. John Knox, a veritable second Calvin in his stern energy, 

secured the introduction of the Presbyterian form of faith and 

church government which still prevail in Scotland. 

In ii;6i the Scotch queen, Mary Stuart, whose French Mary Stuart 

"^ '■'•'' the Scotch 

husband, Francis II, had just died, landed at Leith. She queen, 

becomes the 

was but nineteen years old, of great beauty, and, by reason hope of the 

^ ^ D y 1. . Catholics. 

of her CathoHc faith and French training, almost a foreigner 

to her subjects. Her grandmother was a sister of Henry VIII, 
and Mary claimed to be the rightful heiress to the English 
throne should Elizabeth die childless. Consequently the beau- 
tiful Queen of Scots became the hope of all those, including 
Philip II and Mary's relatives, the Guises, who wished to bring 
back England and Scotland to the Roman Catholic faith. 

Mary made no effort to undo the work of lohn Knox, but Mary's 

she quickly discredited herself with both Protestants and Cath- conduct. 

olics by her conduct. After marrying her second cousin, Lord 

Darnley, she discovered that he was a dissolute scapegrace, 

and came to despise him. She then formed an attachment 

for a reckless nobleman named Bothwell. The house near 

Edinburgh in which the wretched Darnley was lying ill was 

blown up one night with gunpowder, and he was killed. The 

public suspected that both Bothwell and the queen were 

implicated. How far Mary was responsible for her husband's 


History of Western Europe 

Mary flees 
to England, 

The rising in 
the north, 
1569, and 
plans for 






death no one can be sure. It is certain that she later 
married Bothwell and that her indignant subjects thereupon 
deposed her as a murderess. After fruitless attempts to regain 
her power, she abdicated in favor of her infant son, James VI, 
and then fled to England to appeal to Elizabeth. While the 
prudent Elizabeth denied the right of the Scotch to depose their 
queen, she took good care to keep her rival practically a prisoner. 

176. As time went on it became increasingly difficult for 
Elizabeth to adhere to her policy of moderation in the treat- 
ment of the Catholics. A rising in the north of England 
(1569) showed that there were many who would gladly rees- 
tablish the Catholic faith by freeing Mary and placing her on 
the English throne. This was followed by the excommunica- 
tion of Elizabeth by the pope, who at the same time absolved 
her subjects from their allegiance to their heretical ruler. 
Happily for Elizabeth the rebels could look for no help either 
from Alva or the French king. The Spaniards had their hands 
full, for the war in the Netherlands had just begun; and 
Charles IX, who had accepted Coligny as his adviser, was at 
that moment in hearty accord with the Huguenots. The rising 
in the north was suppressed, but the English Catholics con- 
tinued to harbor treasonable designs and to look to Philip 
for help. They opened correspondence with Alva and invited 
him to come with six thousand Spanish troops to dethrone 
Elizabeth and make Mary Stuart queen of England in her 
stead. Alva hesitated, for he characteristically thought that 
it would be better to kill Elizabeth, or at least capture her. 
Meanwhile the plot was discovered and came to naught. 

Although Philip found himself unable to harm England, the 
English mariners, like the Dutch " sea beggars," caused great 
loss to Spain. In spite of the fact that Spain and England were 
not openly at war, the EngHsh seamen extended their operations 
as far as the West Indies, and seized Spanish treasure ships, with 
the firm conviction that in robbing PhiHp they were serving God. 

The Catholic Reformation — Philip II 46 1 

The daring Sir Francis Drake even ventured into the Pacific, 

where only the Spaniards had gone heretofore, and carried off 

much booty on his Httle vessel, the Pelican. At last he took 

*' a great vessel with jewels in plenty, thirteen chests of silver 

coin, eighty pounds weight of gold, and twenty-six tons of 

silver." He then sailed around the world, and on his return 

presented his jewels to Elizabeth, who paid Httle attention to 

the expostulations of the king of Spain.^ 

One hope of the Catholics has not yet been mentioned, Relations 

namely, Ireland, whose relations with England from very early England and 

^ r r . / , Catholic 

times down to the present day form one of the most cheerless Ireland. 

pages in the history of Europe. Ireland was no longer, as it 
had been in the time of Gregory the Great, a center of cul- 
ture.^ The population was divided into numerous clans and 
their chieftains fought constantly with one another as well as 
with the EngHsh, who were vainly endeavoring to subjugate the 
island. Under Henry II and later kings England had con- 
quered a district in the eastern part of Ireland, and here the 
English managed to maintain a foothold in spite of the anarchy 
outside. Henry VIII had suppressed a revolt of the Irish 
and assumed the title of King of Ireland. Mary had hoped 
to promote better relations by colonizing Kings County and 
Queens County with Englishmen. This led, however, to a 
long struggle which only ended when the colonists had killed 
all the natives in the district they occupied. 

Elizabeth's interest in the perennial Irish question was stim- 
ulated by the probability that Ireland might become a basis for 
Catholic operations, since Protestantism had made little prog- 
ress among its simple and half-barbarous people. Her fears were 

1 For English mariners and their voyages and conflicts with Spain, see 
Fronde's English Seamen in the Fifteenth Century. The account of Drake's 
voyage is on pp. 75-103. See also " The Famous Voyage of Sir Francis Drake," 
by one of Drake's ^^-ntlemen at arms, in E. J. Payne's Voyages of Elizabethan 
Seamen to America^ Vol. I, pp. 196-229, Oxford, 1893. 

2 See above, p. 62. 


History of Western Europe 

of the 

Plans to 



Execution of 
Mary Queen 
of Scots, 

realized. Several attempts were made by Catholic leaders to land 
troops in Ireland with the purpose of making the island the base 
for an attack on England. Elizabeth's officers were able to frus- 
trate these enterprises, but the resulting disturbances greatly 
increased the misery of the Irish. In 1582 no less than thirty 
thousand people are said to have perished, chiefly from starvation. 

As Philip's troops began to get the better of the opposition 
in the southern Netherlands, the prospect of sending a Spanish 
army to England grew brighter. Two Jesuits were sent to 
England in 1580 to strengthen the adherents of their faith 
and urge them to assist the foreign force against their queen 
when it should come. Parliament now grew more intolerant 
and ordered fines and imprisonment to be inflicted on those 
who said or heard mass, or who refused to attend the English 
services. One of the Jesuits was cruelly tortured and executed 
for treason, the other escaped to the continent and from there 
directed a conspiracy aimed at Elizabeth's life. 

In the spring of 1582 the first attempt to assassinate the 
heretical queen was made at Philip's instigation. It was pro- 
posed that, when EHzabeth was out of the way, the duke of 
Guise should see that an army was sent to England in the 
interest of the Catholics. But Guise was kept busy at home 
by the War of the Three Henrys, and Philip was left to 
undertake the invasion of England by himself. 

Mary did not live to witness the attempt. She became impli- 
cated in another plot for the assassination of Elizabeth. Par- 
liament now realized that as long as Mary lived Elizabeth's 
life was in constant danger ; whereas, if Mary were out of the 
way, Philip would have no interest in the death of Elizabeth, 
since Mary's son, James VI of Scotland, was a Protestant. 
Elizabeth was therefore reluctantly persuaded by her advisers 
to sign a warrant for Mary's execution in 1587.^ 

1 Reference for life and death of Mary Stuart, Green, Short History. 
PP- 379-392, 416-417- 

TJie CatJwlic Reformation — PJiilip II 463 

Philip by no means gave up his project of reclaiming Protes- Destruction 
tant England. In 1588 he brought together a great fleet, Armada, 1588. 
including his best and largest warships, which was proudly 
called by the Spaniards the ''Invincible Armada" (i.e., fleet). 
This was to sail up the Channel to Flanders and bring over 
the duke of Parma and his veterans, who, it was expected, would 
soon make an end of EHzabeth's raw militia. The EngHsh ships 
were inferior to those of Spain in size although not in num- 
ber, but they had trained commanders, such as Drake and 
Hawkins. These famous captains had long sailed the Spanish 
Main and knew how to use their cannon without getting near 
enough to the Spaniards to suffer from their short-range 
weapons. When the Armada approached, it was permitted by 
the EngUsh fleet to pass up the Channel before a strong wind 
which later became a storm. The EngHsh ships then followed 
and both fleets were driven past the coast of Flanders. Of the 
hundred and twenty Spanish ships, only fifty-four returned 
home ; the rest had been destroyed by English valor, or by the 
gale to which Elizabeth herself ascribed the victory.^ The 
defeat of the Armada put an end to the danger from Spain. 

177. As we look back over the period covered by the Prospects of 

^ , .,. ^^ . . , , . 11 . the Catholic 

reign of Philip II, it is clear that it was a most notable one m cause at the 

the history of the Catholic Church. When he ascended the the «ign of 

throne Germany, as well as Switzerland and the Netherlands, 

had become largely Protestant. England, however, under his 

Catholic wife, Mary, seemed to be turning back to the old 

religion, while the French monarchs showed no incKnation to 

tolerate the heretical Calvinists. Moreover, the new and 

enthusiastic order of the Jesuits promised to be a potent 

agency in inducing the disaffected people to accept once 

more the supremacy of the pope and the doctrines of the 

ancient church as formulated by the Council of Trent. The 

1 References, Green, Short History of the English People, pp. 418-420 ; Froude, 
English Seamen, pp. 176-228, 

Philip II. 


History of Western Europe 

Outcome of 



Decline of 
Spain alter 
the sixteenth 

tremendous power and apparently boundless resources of Spain 
itself, — which were viewed by the rest of Europe with the gravest 
apprehension, not to say terror, — Philip was willing to dedicate 
to the extirpation of heresy in his own dominions and the 
destruction of Protestantism throughout western Europe. 

When Phihp died all was changed. England was hope- 
lessly Protestant : the " Invincible Armada " had been miser- 
ably wrecked, and Philip's plan for bringing England once more 
within the fold of the Roman Catholic Church was forever 
frustrated. In France the terrible wars of religion were over, 
and a powerful king, lately a Protestant himself, was on the 
throne, who not only tolerated the Protestants but chose one 
of them for his chief minister, and would brook no more 
meddling of Spain in French affairs. A new Protestant state, 
the United Netherlands, had actually appeared within the 
bounds of the realm bequeathed to Philip by his father. In 
spite of its small size this state was destined to play, from that 
time on, quite as important a part in European affairs as the 
harsh Spanish stepmother from whose control it had escaped. 

Spain itself had suffered most of all from Philip's reign.^ 
His domestic policy and his expensive wars had weakened a 
country which had never been intrinsically strong. The 
income from across the sea was bound to decrease as the 
mines were exhausted. The final expulsion of the industrious 
Moors, shortly after Philip's death, left the indolent Spaniards 
to till their own fields, which rapidly declined in fertihty 
under their careless cultivation. Poverty was deemed no dis- 
grace but manual labor was. Some one once ventured to tell 
a Spanish king that " not gold and silver but sweat is the most 
precious metal, a coin which is always current and never 
depreciates"; but it was a rare form of currency in the 
Spanish peninsula. After Philip IPs death Spain sinks to the 
rank of a secondary European power. 

1 Reference, Johnson, Europe in the Sixteenth Century, Chapter VII, §§ i and 3. 



178. The last great conflict caused by the differences The Thirty 

Years' War 

between the CathoHcs and Protestants was fought out in Ger- reaiiy a 

series of 

many during the first half of the seventeenth century. It is wars. 

generally known as the Thirty Years' War (1618-1648), but 
there was in reality a series of wars ; and although the fight- 
ing was done upon German territory, Sweden, France, and 
Spain played quite as important a part as Germany. 

Just before the abdication of Charles V, the Lutheran princes weaknesses 
, , <- , , , , , ,..,,. of the Peace 

had forced the emperor to acknowledge their right to their of Augsburg. 

own religion and to the church property which they had 

appropriated. The religious Peace of Augsburg had, however, 

as we have seen,^ two great weaknesses. In the first place, 

only those Protestants who held the Lutheran faith were to be 

tolerated. The Calvinists, who were increasing in numbers, • 

were not included in the peace. In the second place, the 

peace did not put a stop to the seizure of church property 

by the Protestant princes. 

Duriner the last years of Ferdinand I's reign and that of his Spread of 
b J o Protestant- 

successor there was Httle trouble. Protestantism, however, ism. 

made rapid progress and invaded Bavaria, the Austrian pos- 
sessions, and above all, Bohemia, where the doctrines of Huss 
had never died out. So it looked for a time as if even the 
German Hapsburgs were to see large portions of their territory 
falling away from the old Church. But the Catholics had in 
the Jesuits a band of active and efficient missionaries. They 

1 See above, pp. 419-420. 


History of Western Europe 

of the 
Union and 
the Catholic 

revolts from 
the Hapsburg 
rule, 1618. 

not only preached and founded schools, but also succeeded 
in gaining the confidence of some of the German princes, 
whose chief advisers they became. Conditions were very 
favorable, at the opening of the seventeenth century, for a 
renewal of the religious struggle. 

The Lutheran town of Donauworth permitted the existence 
of a monastery within its limits. In 1607 a Protestant mob 
attacked the monks as they were passing in procession through 
the streets. Duke Maximilian of Bavaria, an ardent Catholic, 
on the border of whose possessions the town lay, gladly under- 
took to punish this outrage. His army entered Donauworth, 
reestablished the Catholic worship, and drove out the Lutheran 
pastor. This event led to the formation of the Protestant Union 
under the leadership of Frederick, elector of the Palatinate. 
The Union included by no means all the Protestant princes ; 
for example, the Lutheran elector of Saxony refused to have any- 
thing to do with the Calvinistic Frederick. The next year the 
Catholics, on their part, formed the Catholic League under a 
far more efficient head, namely, Maximilian of Bavaria.-^ 

These were the preliminaries of the Thirty Years' War. Hos- 
tiUties began in Bohemia, which had been added to the Haps- 
burg possessions through the marriage of Ferdinand I. The 
Protestants were so strong in that country that they had forced 
the emperor in 1 609 to grant them privileges greater even than 
those enjoyed by the Huguenots in France. The government, 
however, failed to observe this agreement, and the destruction 
of two Protestant churches resulted in a revolution at Prague 
in 1 618. Three representatives of the emperor were seized by 
the irritated Bohemian leaders and thrown out of the window 
of the palace. After this emphatic protest against the oppres- 
sive measures of the government, Bohemia endeavored to 
estabhsh itself once more as an independent kingdom. It 
renounced the rule of the Hapsburgs and chose Frederick, 

1 Reference, Wakeman, Europe from I3g8-i7i3, Chapter III. 

TJie TJiirty Years' War 467 

the elector of the Palatinate, as its new king. He appeared to Frederick, 

the Bohemians to possess a double advantage ; in the first palatinate, 

place, he was the head of the Protestant Union, and in the of Bohemia. 

second, he was the son-in-law of the king of England, James I, 

to whom they looked for help. 

The Bohemian venture proved a most disastrous one for Failure of the 

Germany and for Protestantism. The new emperor, Ferdi- revolt. 

nand II (161 9- 1637), who was at once an uncompromising 
Catholic and a person of considerable ability, appealed to the 
League for assistance. Frederick, the new king of Bohemia, 
showed himself entirely unequal to the occasion. He and his 
English wife, the Princess Elizabeth, made a bad impression on 
the Bohemians, and they failed to gain the support of the neigh- 
boring Lutheran elector of Saxony. A single battle, which the Battle on the 

r 1 X 1 ^x . .,. • r White Hill, 

army of the League under Maximihan won in 1620, put to 1620. 
flight the poor " winter king," as he was derisively called on 
account of his reign of a single season. The emperor and the 
duke of Bavaria set vigorously to work to suppress Protestant- 
ism within their borders. The emperor arbitrarily granted the 
eastern portion of the Palatinate to Maximilian and gave him 
the title of Elector, without consulting the diet. 

179. Matters were becoming serious for the Protestant England and 

party, and England might have intervened had it not been unaweto 

1 1 1 » • 1 • n assist the 

that James I beheved that he could by his personal influence Protestants. 

restore peace to Europe and induce the emperor and Max- 
imilian of Bavaria to give back the Palatinate to the " winter 
king." Even France might have taken a hand, for although 
Richelieu, then at the head of affairs, had no love for the 
Protestants, he was still more bitterly opposed to the Haps- 
burgs. However, his hands were tied for the moment, for 
he was just undertaking to deprive the Huguenots of their 

strong towns. Christian iv 

. . of Denmark 

A diversion came, nevertheless, from without. Chnstian IV, invades Ger- 
many, but is 
king of Denmark, invaded northern Germany in 1625 with a defeated. 


History of Western Ei trope 


The Edict of 

Dismissal of 



of Gustavus 

Adolphus of 



The kingdom 
of Sweden. 

view of relieving his fellow Protestants. In addition to the 
army of the League which was dispatched against him, a new 
army was organized by the notorious commander, Wallenstein. 
The emperor was poor and gladly accepted the offer of this 
ambitious Bohemian nobleman^ to collect an army which should 
support itself upon the proceeds of the war, to wit, confiscation 
and robbery. Christian met with two serious defeats in north- 
ern Germany ; even his peninsula was invaded by the imperial 
forces, and in 1629 he agreed to retire from the conflict. 

The emperor was encouraged by the successes of the Catho- 
lic armies to issue that same year an Edict of Restitution. In 
this he ordered the Protestants throughout Germany to give 
back all the church possessions which they had seized since 
the religious Peace of Augsburg (1555). These included two 
archbishoprics (Magdeburg and Bremen), nine bishoprics, 
about one hundred and twenty monasteries, and other church 
foundations. Moreover, he decreed that only the Lutherans 
might enjoy the practice of their religion ; the other " sects " 
were to be broken up. As Wallenstein was preparing to exe- 
cute this decree in his usual merciless fashion, the war took a 
new turn. The League had become jealous of a general who 
threatened to become too powerful, and it accordingly joined 
in the complaints, which came from every side, of the terrible 
extortions and incredible cruelty practiced by Wallenstein's 
troops. The emperor consented, therefore, to dismiss this most 
competent commander and lose a large part of his army. Just 
as the Catholics were thus weakened, a new enemy arrived 
upon the scene who was far more dangerous than any they 
had yet had to face, Gustavus Adolphus, king of Sweden.^ 

180. We have had no occasion hitherto to speak of the 
Scandinavian kingdoms of Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, 

1 Wallenstein (b. 1583) had been educated in the CathoUc faith, although he 
came of a family with Hussite sympathies. 

2 Reference, Wakeman, Europe from 7595-/7/^, Chapter IV. 

TJie Thirty Yeais' VVai'- 469 

which the northern German peoples had established about 
Charlemagne's time ; but from now on they begin to take part 
in the affairs of central Europe. The Union of Calmar (1397) 
had brought these three kingdoms, previously separate, under 
a single ruler. About the time that the Protestant revolt 
began in Germany the union was broken by the withdrawal of 
Sweden. Gustavus Vasa, a Swedish noble, led the movement Gustavus 
and was subsequently chosen king of Sweden (1523). In the 1560.' 
same year Protestantism was introduced. Vasa confiscated 
the church lands, got the better of the aristocracy, and started 
Sweden on its way toward national greatness. Under his 
successor the eastern shores of the Baltic were conquered and 
the Russians cut off from the sea. 

Gustavus Adolphus (1^04-1632) was induced to invade Motives of 

-r , / , , • Gustavus 

Germany for two reasons. In the first place, he was a smcere Adolphus in 

and enthusiastic Protestant and by far the most generous and Germany, 

attractive figure of his time. He was genuinely afflicted by the 

misfortunes of his Protestant brethren and anxious to devote 

himself to their welfare. Secondly, he dreamed of extending 

his domains so that one day the Baltic might perhaps become 

a Swedish lake. He undoubtedly hoped by his invasion not 

only to free his co-religionists from the oppression of the 

emperor and of the League, but to gain a strip of territory for 


Gustavus was not received with much cordiality at first by Destruction 

, of Magde- 

the Protestant princes of the north ; but they were brought to burg, 1631. 

their senses by the awful destruction of Magdeburg by the 

troops of the League under General Tilly. Magdeburg was 

the most important town of northern Germany. When it 

finally succumbed after an obstinate and difficult siege, twenty 

thousand of its inhabitants were killed and the town burned 

to the ground. Although Tilly's reputation for cruelty is 

quite equal to that of Wallenstein, he was probably not 

responsible for the fire. After Gustavus Adolphus had met 


History of Western Europe 

victorious at 


killed at 
Liitzen, 1632. 

Murder of 

Battle of 



Tilly near Leipsic and victoriously routed the army of the 
League, the Protestant princes began to look with more favor 
on the foreigner, Gustavus then moved westward and took 
up his winter quarters on the Rhine. 

The next spring he entered Bavaria and once more 
defeated Tilly (who was mortally wounded in the battle), and 
forced Munich to surrender. There seemed now to be no 
reason why he should not continue his way to Vienna. At 
this juncture the emperor recalled Wallenstein, who collected 
a new army over which the emperor gave him absolute com- 
mand. After some delay Gustavus met Wallenstein on the 
field of Liitzen, in November, 1632, where, after a fierce 
struggle, the Swedes gained the victory. But they lost their 
leader and Protestantism its hero, for the Swedish king ven- 
tured too far into the lines of the enemy and was surrounded 
and killed. 

The Swedes did not, however, retire from Germany, but 
continued to participate in the war, which now degenerated 
into a series of raids by leaders whose soldiers depopulated 
the land by their unspeakable atrocities. Wallenstein roused 
the suspicions of the Catholics by entering into mysterious 
negotiations with Richelieu and with the German Protestants. 
This treasonable correspondence quickly reached the ears of 
the emperor. Wallenstein, who had long been detested by 
even the Cathohcs, was deserted by his soldiers and murdered 
(in 1634), to the great relief of all parties. In the same year 
the imperial army won the important battle of NordHngen, 
one of the most bloody and at the same time decisive engage- 
ments of the war. Shortly after, the elector of Saxony with- 
drew from his alliance with the Swedes and made peace with 
the emperor. It looked as if the war were about to come to 
an end, for many others among the German princes were 
quite ready to lay down their arms.^ 

1 Reference, Wakeman, Europe from 1398-1713, Chapter V. 

The Thirty Years' War 471 

181. Just at this critical moment Richelieu decided that it Richelieu 

renews the 
would be to the interest of France to renew the old struggle struggle of 

°° France 
with the Hapsburgs by sending troops against the emperor, against the 

France was still shut in, as she had been since the time of 

Charles V, by the Hapsburg lands. Except on the side 

toward the ocean her boundaries were in the main artificial 

ones, and not those estabhshed by great rivers and mountains. 

She therefore longed to weaken her enemy and strengthen 

herself by winning Roussillon on the south, and so make the 

crest of the Pyrenees the line of demarcation between France 

and Spain. She dreamed, too, of extending her sway toward 

the Rhine by adding the county of Burgundy (i.e., Franche- 

Comte) and a number of fortified towns which would afford 

protection against the Spanish Netherlands. 

RicheHeu had been by no means indifferent to the Thirty Richelieu 

Years' War. He had encouraged the Swedish king to inter- Spanish 


vene, and had supplied him with funds if not with troops, initaiy. 
Moreover, he himself had checked Spanish progress in north- 
ern Italy. In 1624 Spanish troops had invaded the valley of 
the Adda, a Protestant region, with the evident purpose of con- 
quest. This appeared a most serious aggression to Richelieu, 
for if the Spanish won the valley of the Adda, the last barrier 
between the Hapsburg possessions in Italy and in Germany 
-would be removed. French troops were dispatched to drive 
out the Spaniards, but it was in the interest of France rather 
than in that of the oppressed Calvinists, for whom Richeheu 
could hardly have harbored a deep affection. A few years later 
it became a question whether a Spanish or a French candidate 
should obtain the vacant duchy of Mantua, and Richelieu led 
another French army in person to see that Spain was again 
discomfited. It was, then, not strange that he should decide 
to deal a blow at the emperor when the war appeared to be 
coming to a close that was tolerably satisfactory from the 
standpoint of the Hapsburgs. 


History of Western Europe 

the war. 

France suc- 
ceeds Spain 
in the 
of western 

Close of the 
Thirty Years' 
War, 1648. 

Richelieu declared war against Spain in May, 1635. He 
had already concluded an alliance with the chief enemies of 
the house of Austria. Sweden agreed not to negotiate for 
peace until France was ready for it. The United Provinces 
joined France, as did some of the German princes. So the 
war was renewed, and French, Swedish, Spanish, and German 
soldiers ravaged an already exhausted country for a decade 
longer. The dearth of provisions was so great that the armies 
had to move quickly from place to place in order to avoid 
starvation. After a serious defeat by the Swedes, the emperor 
(Ferdinand III, 1637-165 7) sent a Dominican monk to expos- 
tulate with Cardinal Richelieu for his crime in aiding the 
German and Swedish heretics against the unimpeachably 
orthodox Austria. 

The cardinal had, however, just died (December, 1642), 
well content with the results of his diplomacy. The French 
were in possession of Roussillon and of Artois, Lorraine, and 
Alsace. The military exploits of the French generals, espe- 
cially Turenne and Conde, during the opening years of the 
reign of Louis XIV (i 643-1715) showed that a new period 
had begun in which the military and pohtical supremacy of 
Spain was to give way to that of France. 

182. The participants in the war were now so numerous 
and their objects so various and conflicting, that it is not 
strange that it required some years to arrange the conditions 
of peace even when every one was ready for it. It was agreed 
(1644) that France and the empire should negotiate at Miin- 
ster, and the emperor and the Swedes at Osnabriick, — both 
of which towns lie in Westphalia. For four years the repre- 
sentatives of the several powers worked upon the difficult 
problem of satisfying every one, but at last the treaties of 
Westphalia were signed late in 1648. Their provisions con- 
tinued to be the basis of the international law of Europe 
down to the French Revolution. 

The TJiirty Years War 473 

The religious troubles in Germany were settled by extending Provisions 
the toleration of the Peace of Augsburg so as to include the treaties of 
Calvinists as well as the Lutherans. The Protestant princes 
were, regardless of the Edict of Restitution, to retain the 
lands which they had in their possession in the year 1624, 
and each ruler was still to have the right to determine the 
religion of his state. The dissolution of the German empire 
was practically acknowledged by permitting the individual 
states to make treaties among themselves and with foreign 
powers ; this was equivalent to recognizing the practical inde- 
pendence which they had, as a matter of fact, already long 
enjoyed. A part of Pomerania and the districts at the mouth 
of the Oder, the Elbe, and the Weser were ceded to Sweden. 
This territory did not, however, cease to form a part of the 
empire, for Sweden was thereafter to have three votes in the 
German diet. 

As for France, it was definitely given the three bishoprics of 

Metz, Verdun, and Toul, which Henry II had bargained for 

when he allied himself with the Protestants a century earher.^ 

The emperor also ceded to France all his rights in Alsace, 

although the city of Strasburg was to remain with the empire. 

Lastly, the independence both of the United Netherlands and 

of Switzerland was acknowledged.^ 

The accounts of the misery and depopulation of Germany Disastrous 

results of 
caused by the Thirty Years' War are well-nigh incredible, the war in 

Thousands of villages were wiped out altogether; in some 

regions the population was reduced by one half, in others to 

a third, or even less, of what it had been at the opening of 

the conflict. The flourishing city of Augsburg was left with 

but sixteen thousand souls instead of eighty thousand. The 

people were fearfully barbarized by privation and suffering and 

1 See above, p. 452. 

2 Reference, Wakeman, Europe from isqS-iyrs, Chapter VI. For a brief and 
excellent review of the whole war, see Schwill, Modern Europe, pp. 141-160. 


474 History of Western Europe 

by the atrocities of the soldiers of all the various nations. Until 
the end of the eighteenth century Germany was too exhausted 
and impoverished to make any considerable contribution to 
the culture of Europe. Only one hopeful circumstance may 
be noted as we leave this dreary subject. After the Peace of 
Westphalia the elector of Brandenburg was the most powerful 
of the German princes next to the emperor. As king of 
Prussia he* was destined to create another European power, 
and at last to humble the house of Hapsburg and create 
a new German empire in which Austria should have no part. 

General Reading. — The most complete and scholarly account of the 
Thirty Years' War to be had in English is Gindely, History of the 
Thirty Years' War (G. P. Putnam's Sons, 2 vols., $3.50). 



183. The sfreat question which confronted England in the The question 

of absolute 
seventeenth century was whether the king should be permitted or limited 

, _, . , . 1111- monarchy in 

to rule the people, as God s representative, or should submit England, 
to the constant control of the nation's representatives, i.e., 
Parliament. In France the Estates General met for the 
last time in 16 14, and thereafter the French king made laws 
and executed them without asking the advice of any one 
except his immediate counselors. In general, the rulers 
on the continent exercised despotic powers, and James I of 
England and his son Charles I would gladly have made them- 
selves absolute rulers, for they entertained the same exalted 
notions of the divine right of kings which prevailed across 
the English Channel. England finally succeeded, however, in 
adjusting the relations between king and Parliament in a very 
happy way, so as to produce a limited, or constitutional, mon- 
archy. The long and bitter struggle between the house of 
Stuart and the English Parliament plays an important role 
in the history of Europe at large, as well as in that of 
England. After the French Revolution, at the end of the 
eighteenth century, the Enghsh system began to become 
popular on the continent, and it has now replaced the older 
absolute monarchy in all the kingdoms of western Europe. 

On the death of Elizabeth in 1603, James I, the first of Accession of 

James I, 
the Stuarts, ascended the English throne. He was, it will be 1603-1625. 

remembered, the son of Mary Queen of Scots, and was known 


47^ History of Western Enrope 

in Scotland as James VI ; consequently England and Scotland 

now came under the same ruler. This did not, however, make 

the relations between the two countries much happier, for a 

century to come at least. 

Tames' belief The chief interest of Tames' reign lay in his tendency to 
inthe' divine , , , / -, . , . • 

right 'of exalt the royal prerogative, and in the systematic manner m 

which he extolled absolute monarchy in his writings and 
speeches and discredited it by his conduct. James was an 
unusually learned man, for a king, but his learning did not 
enlighten him in matters of common sense. As a man and a 
ruler, he was far inferior to his unschooled and light-hearted 
contemporary, Henry IV of France. Henry VIII had been a 
heartless despot, and Elizabeth had ruled the nation in a high- 
handed manner ; but both of them had known how to make 
themselves popular and had had the good sense to say as little 
as possible about their rights. James, on the contrary, had a 
fancy for discussing his high position. 
His own " As for the absolute prerogative of the crown," he declares, 

expression of , . , . ,. , r ^ • • ^ r ^ 

his claims. " that IS no subject for the tongue of a lawyer, nor is it lawful 
to be disputed. It is atheism and blasphemy to dispute what 
God can do : ... so it is presumption and high contempt 
in a subject to dispute what a king can do, or say that a king 
cannot do this or that." The king, James claimed, could make 
any kind of law or statute that he thought meet, without any 
advice from Parliament, although he might, if he chose, accept 
its suggestions. " He is overlord of the whole land, so is he 
master over every person who inhabiteth the same, having 
power over the life and death of every one of them : for 
although a just prince will not take the life of one of his sub- 
jects without a clear law, yet the same laws whereby he taketh 
them are made by himself and his predecessors ; so the power 
flows always from himself." A good king will act according 
to law, but he is above the law and is not bound thereby 
except voluntarily and for good-example giving to his subjects. 

Struggle in England for Cojistitiitional Government 477 

These theories, taken from James' work on The Law of Free The theory 
Mo7iarchies, seem strange and unreasonable to us. But he ?ight™^ 
was really only claiming the rights which his predecessors had 
enjoyed, and such as were conceded to the kings of France 
until the French Revolution. According to the theory of 
" divine right," the king did not owe his power to the nation 
but to God, who had appointed him to be the father of his 
people. From God he derived all the prerogatives necessary 
to maintain order and promote justice ; consequently he was 
responsible to God alone, and not to the people, for the 
exercise of his powers. It is unnecessary to follow in detail 
the troubles between James and his Parliament and the various 
methods which he invented for raising money without the 
sanction of Parliament, for all this forms only the preliminary 
to the fatal experience of James' son, Charles I. 

In his foreign policy James showed as little sense as in his James I's 
relations with his own people. He refused to help his son-in- policy, 
law when he became king of Bohemia.-^ But when the 
Palatinate was given by the emperor to Maximilian of Bava- 
ria, James struck upon the extraordinary plan of forming 
an alliance with the hated Spain and inducing its king to 
persuade the emperor to reinstate the " winter king " in his 
former possessions. In order to conciliate Spain, Charles, 
Prince of Wales, was to marry a Spanish princess. Naturally 
this proposal was very unpopular among the English Prot- 
estants, and it finally came to nothing. 

Although England under Tames I failed to influence deeply Literature in 
1 r rr ■ • i ,...,. the time of 

the course of affairs in Europe at large, his reign is distm- Elizabeth 

and James I. 
guished by the work of unrivaled writers who gave England a 

Hterature which outshone that of any other of the European 

countries. Shakespeare is generally admitted to have been Shakespeare, 

the greatest dramatist the world has ever produced. While 

he wrote many of his plays before the death of Elizabeth, 

1 See above, p. 467. 


History of Western Europe 


The King 
James trans- 
lation of the 

Charles I, 

Othello^ King Lear, and The Tempest belong to the reign 
of James. Francis Bacon, philosopher and statesman, did 
much for the advancement of scientific research by advocating 
new methods of reasoning based upon a careful observation 
of natural phenomena instead of upon Aristotle's logic. He 
urged investigators to take the path already indicated over 
two centuries earlier by his namesake, Roger Bacon.^ The 
most worthy monument of the strong and beautiful English 
of the period is to be found in the translation of the Bible, 
prepared in James' reign and still generally used in all the 
countries where EngHsh is spoken.^ 

184. Charles I was somewhat more dignified than his father, 
but he was quite as obstinately set upon having his own way 
and showed no more skill in winning the confidence of his 
subjects. He did nothing to remove the disagreeable impres- 
sions of his father's reign and began immediately to quarrel 
with Parliament. When that body refused to grant him any 
money, mainly because they thought that it was Hkely to be 
wasted by his favorite, the duke of Buckingham, Charles 
formed the plan of winning their favor by a great military 

After James I had reluctantly given up his cherished Span- 
ish alliance, Charles had married a French princess, Henrietta 
Maria, the daughter of Henry IV. In spite of this marriage 
Charles now proposed to aid the Huguenots whom Richelieu 
was besieging in their town of La Rochelle. He also hoped 
to gain popularity by prosecuting a war against Spain, whose 
king was energetically supporting the Catholic League in Ger- 
many. Accordingly, in spite of Parliament's refusal to grant 

1 See above, p. 273. 

2 See the translators' dedication to James I in the authorized version of the 
Bible. Only recently has it been deemed necessary to revise the remarkable work 
of the translators of the early seventeenth century. Modern scholars discovered 
very few serious mistakes in this authorized version, but found it expedient for 
the sake of clearness to modernize a number of words and expressions. 

Struggle in England for Constitittio7tal Government 479 

him the necessary funds, he embarked in war. With only the 

money which he could raise by irregular means, Charles 

arranged an expedition to take Cadiz and the Spanish treasure 

ships which arrived there once a year from America, laden with 

gold and silver. The expedition failed, as well as Charles' 

attempt to help the Huguenots. 

In his attempts to raise money without a regular errant from Charles' ex- 

00 actions and 

Parliament, Charles had resorted to vexatious exactions. The arbitrary 

law prohibited him from asking for gifts from his people, but 

it did not forbid his asking them to lend him money, however 
little prospect there might be of his ever repaying it. Five 
gentlemen who refused to pay such a forced loan were 
imprisoned by the mere order of the king. This raised the 
question of whether the king had the right to send to prison 
those whom he wished without showing legal cause for their 

This and other attacks upon the rights of his subjects roused The Petition 
Parliament. In 1628 that body drew up the celebrated Peti- 
tion of Right,^ which is one of the most important documents 
in the history of the English Constitution. In it Parliament 
called the king's attention to his illegal exactions, and to 
the acts of his agents who had in sundry ways molested and 
disquieted the people of the realm. Parliament therefore 
" humbly prayed " the king that no man need thereafter " make 
or yield any gift, loan, benevolence, tax, or such like charge " 
without consent of Parliament ; that no free man should be 
imprisoned or suffer any punishment except according to the 
laws and statutes of the realm as presented in the Great 
Charter ; and that soldiers should not be quartered upon the 
people on any pretext whatever. Very reluctantly Charles 
consented to this restatement of the limitations which the 
English had always, in theory at least, placed upon the arbitrary 
power of their king. 

1 See Lee, Souru-book of English History, pp. 348-352. 


History of Western Europe 





and the 


Charles dis- 
solves Parlia- 
ment (1629) 
and deter- 
mines to rule 
by himself. 

The disagreement between Charles and Parhament was ren- 
dered much more serious by rehgious differences. The king 
had married a Cathohc princess, and the CathoHc cause seemed 
to be gaining on the continent. The king of Denmark had 

just been defeated by Wallenstein 
and Tilly, and Richelieu had suc- 
ceeded in depriving the Hugue- 
nots of their cities of refuge. 
Both James and Charles had 
shown their readiness to enter 
into engagements with France 
and Spain to protect English 
Catholics, and there was evi- 
dently a growing inclination in 
England to revert to the older 
ceremonies of the Church, which 
shocked the more strongly Prot- 
estant members of the House of 
Commons. The communion 
table was again placed by many 
clergymen at the eastern end of 
the church and became fixed 
there as an altar, and portions 
of the service were once more 

These " popish practices," with 
which the king was supposed to 
sympathize, served to widen the 
breach between him and the 
Commons which had been opened by the king's attempt to 
raise taxes on his own account. The Parliament of 1629, 
after a stormy session, was dissolved by the king, who deter- 
mined to rule thereafter by himself. For eleven years no new 
Parliament was summoned. 

Charles I 
(After a painting by Vandyke) 

Struggle in England for Constitutional Government 48 1 

185. Charles was not well fitted by nature to try the 

experiment of personal government. Moreover, the methods 

resorted to by his ministers to raise money without recourse 

to Parliament rendered the king more and more unpopular 

and prepared the way for the triumphant return of Parliament. 

According to an ancient law of England, those who had a Charles' 
r 1 1 1 1-1 1 • 1 financial 

certam amount of land must become knights ; but since the exactions. 

decay of the feudal system, landowners had given up the 

meaningless form of qualifying themselves as knights. It now 

occurred to the king's government that a large amount of 

money might be raised by fining these delinquents. Other 

unfortunates who had settled within the boundaries of the 

royal forests were either heavily fined or required to pay 

enormous arrears of rent. 

In addition to these sources of income, Charles apphed to 

his subjects for ship inoney} He was anxious to equip a fleet, 

but instead of requiring the various ports to furnish ships, as 

was the ancient custom, he permitted them to buy themselves 

off by contributing to the fitting out of large ships owned by 

himself. Even those living inland were asked for ship money. 

The king maintained that this was not a tax but simply a 

payment by which his subjects freed themselves from the 

duty of defending their country. John Hampden, a squire 

of Buckinghamshire, made a bold stand against this illegal 

demand by refusing to pay twenty shilHngs of ship money which 

was levied upon him. The case was tried before the king's 

judges, a bare majority of whom decided against Hampden. 

But the trial made it tolerably clear that the country would 

not put up long with the king's despotic policy. 

In 16^^ Charles made William Laud Archbishop of Canter- wiiiiam 

^'^ /1 , Laud made 

bury. Laud beheved that the English Church would strengthen Archbishop of 

, . . 1 11 Canterbury, 

both itself and the government by following a middle course 

1 See Lee, Source-book of English History, pp. 352-355, for the first writ of 
ship money. 

482 History of Western Europe 

which should lie between that of the Church of Rome and that 
of Calvinistic Geneva. He declared that it was the part of 
good citizenship to conform outwardly to the services of the 
state church, but that the state should not undertake to oppress 
the individual conscience, and that every one should be at 
liberty to make up his own mind in regard to the interpre- 
tation to be given to the Bible and to the church fathers. As 
soon as he became archbishop he began a series of visitations 
through his province. Every clergyman who refused to con- 
form to the Prayer Book, or opposed the placing of the com- 
munion table at the east end of the church, or declined to 
bow at the name of Jesus, was, if obstinate, to be brought 
before the king's special Court of High Commission to be tried 
and if convicted to be deprived of his benefice. 
The different Laud's conduct was no doubt gratifying to the High Church 
Protestants, party among the Protestants, that is, those who still clung to 
some of the ancient practices of the Roman Church, although 
they rejected the doctrine of the Mass and refused to regard 
the pope as their head. The Low Church party, or Furitafis, 
on the contrary, regarded Laud and his policy with aversion. 
While, unlike the Presbyterians, they did not urge the abolition 
of the bishops, they disliked all " superstitious usages," as they 
called the wearing of the surplice by the clergy, the use of the 
sign of the cross at baptism, the kneeling posture in partaking 
of the communion. The Presbyterians, who are often confused 
with the Puritans, agreed with them in many respects, but went 
farther and demanded the introduction of Calvin's system of 
church government.-^ 
The ^ Lastly, there was an ever-increasing number of Separatists, 

or Independents. These rejected both the organization of the 
Church of England and that of the Presbyterians, and desired 
that each rehgious community should organize itself inde- 
pendently. The government had forbidden these Separatists 
1 See above, p. 426, n. i. 


Struggle m Englatidfor Constitutional Government 483 

to hold their Httle meetings, which they called co?iventicles, 
and about 1600 some of them fled to Holland. The commu- 
nity of them which established itself at Leyden dispatched 
the May/lower, in 1620, with colonists — since known as the The Pilgrim 
Pilgrim Fathers — to the New World across the sea.-^ It was 
these colonists who laid the foundations of a New England 
which has proved a worthy offspring of the mother coun- 
try. The form of worship which they established in their 
new home is still known as Congregational.^ 

186. In 1640 Charles found himself forced to resort to Charles sum- 
Parliament, for he was involved in a war with Scotland which mentonce 

he could not carry on without money. There the Presbyterian him in fight- 

ing the 
system had been pretty generally introduced by John Knox in scotch Pres- 

Queen Mary's time, but the bishops had been permitted to 1640. 
maintain a precarious existence in the interest of the nobles who 
enjoyed their revenues. James I had always had a strong dis- 
like for Presbyterianism. He once said, " A Scottish presbytery 
agreeth as well with the monarchy as God with the devil. Then 
Jack and Tom and Will and Dick shall meet and at their 
pleasure censure me and my council." He much preferred a 
few bishops appointed by himself to hundreds of presbyteries 
over whose sharp eyes and sharper tongues he could have little 
control. So bishops were reappointed in Scotland in the early 
years of his reign and got back some of their powers. The 
Presbyterians, however, were still in the majority, and they 
continued to regard the bishops as the tools of the king. 

An attempt on the part of Charles to force the Scots to The National 

accept a modified form of the English Prayer Book led to the 1638. 

signing of the National Covenant in 1638. This pledged those 

1 The name Puritan, it should be noted, was applied loosely to the English 
Protestants,whether Low Churchmen, Presbyterians, or Tndependents,who aroused 
the antagonism of their neighbors by advocating a godly life and opposing popular 
pastimes, especially on Sunday. 

2 Reference, Green, Short History, pp. 595-514. For a contemporary account 
of Puritans, see Readings, Chapter XXX. 


History of Western Europe 

The measures 
of the Long 
against the 

who attached their names to it to reestabhsh the purity and 
liberty of the Gospel, which, to most of the Covenanters, 
meant Presbyterianism. Charles thereupon undertook to 
coerce the Scots. Having no money, he bought on credit a 
large cargo of pepper, which had just arrived in the ships of 
the East India Company, and sold it cheap for ready cash. 
The soldiers, however, whom he got together showed little 
inclination to fight the Scots, with whom they were in tolerable 
agreement on religious matters. Charles was therefore at last 
obhged to summon a Parliament, which, owing to the length of 
time it remained in session, is known as the Long Parliament. 
The Long Parliament began by imprisoning Straiford, the 
king's most conspicuous minister, and Archbishop Laud in 
the Tower of London. The help that Strafford had given to the 
king in ruling without Parliament had mortally offended the 
House of Commons. They declared him guilty of treason, and 
he was executed in 1641, in spite of Charles' efforts to save 
him. Laud met the same fate four years later. Parliament 
also tried to strengthen its position by passing the Triennial 
Bill, which provided that it should meet at least once in three 
years, even if not summoned by the king. The courts of Star 
Chamber and High Commission, which had arbitrarily con- 
demned a number of the king's opponents, were aboHshed, 
and ship money declared illegal.^ In short, Charles' whole 
system of government was abrogated. The efforts of the 
queen to obtain money and soldiers from the pope, and a visit 
of Charles to Scotland, which Parliament suspected was for 
the purpose of forcing the Scots to lend him an army to use 
against themselves, led to the Grand Remonstrance. In this 
all of Charles' errors were enumerated and a demand was 
made that the king's ministers should thereafter be respon- 
sible to Parliament. This document Parliament ordered to 
be printed and circulated throughout the country. 

1 Reference, Lee, Source-book of English History, pp. 355-357. 

Struggle in Englaftd for Coiistitutiotial Goveninient 48 5 

Exasperated at the conduct of the Commons, Charles 
attempted to intimidate the opposition by undertaking the 
arrest of five of its most active leaders, whom he declared 
to be traitors. But when he entered the House of Commons 
and looked around for his enemies, he found that they had 
taken shelter in London, whose citizens later brought them 
back in triumph to Westminster. 

187. Both Charles and Parliament now began to gather 
troops for the inevitable conflict, and England was plunged 
into civil war. Those who supported Charles were called 
Cavaliers. They included not only most of the aristocracy 
and the papal party, but also 
a number of members of the 
House of Commons who were 
fearful lest Presbyterianism 
should succeed in doing away 
with the EngHsh Church. The 
parliamentary party was popu- 
larly known as the Roundheads^ 
since some of them cropped 
their hair close because of their 
dislike for the long locks of 
their more aristocratic and 
worldly opponents. 

The Roundheads soon found 
a distinguished leader in Oliver 

CromwelP (b. 1599), a country gentleman and member of 
Parliament, who was later to become the most powerful ruler 
of his time. Cromwell organized a compact army of God- 
fearing men, who indulged in no profane words or light talk, 
as is the wont of soldiers, but advanced upon their enemies 
singing psalms. The king enjoyed the support of northern 

1 Reference for Cromwell's early career and his generalship, Green, Short 
History, pp. 554-559. 

attempts to 
arrest five 
members of 
the House 
of Commons. 

The begin- 
ning of civil 
war, 1642. 
Cavaliers and 

Oliver Cromwell 



History of Western Europe 

Battles of 
Moor and 

The losing 
cause of 
the king. 


Execution of 
Charles, 1649. 

England, and also looked for help from Ireland, where the 
royal and Catholic causes were popular. 

The war continued for several years, and a number of 
battles were fought which, after the first year, went in general 
against the Cavaliers. The most important of these were the 
battle of Marston Moor in 1644, and that of Naseby the next 
year, in which the king was disastrously defeated. The enemy 
came into possession of his correspondence, which showed 
them how their king had been endeavoring to bring armies 
from France and Ireland into England. This encouraged Par- 
Hament to prosecute the war with more energy than ever. 
The king, defeated on every hand, put himself in the hands of 
the Scotch army which had come to the aid of Parliament 
(1646), and the Scotch soon turned him over to Parliament. 
During the next two years Charles, while held in captivity, 
entered into negotiations with the various parties in turn, but 
played fast and loose with them all. 

There were many in the House of Commons who still sided 
with the king, and in December, 1648, that body declared 
for a reconciliation with the monarch, whom they had safely 
imprisoned in the Isle of Wight. The next day Colonel 
Pride, representing the army, — which constituted a party in 
itself and was opposed to all negotiations between the king 
and the Commons, — stood at the door of the House with a 
body of soldiers and excluded all the members who took the 
side of 'the king. This outrageous act is known in history as 
Pride's Purge. 

In this way the House was brought completely under the 
control of those most bitterly hostile to Charles, whom they 
now proposed to bring to trial. They declared that the House 
of Commons, since it was chosen by the people, was supreme 
in England and the source of all just power, and that conse- 
quently neither king nor House of Lords was necessary. The 
mutilated House appointed a special High Court of Justice 

Struggle in E7igland for Constitutional Government 487 

made up of Charles' sternest opponents, who alone would 
consent to sit in judgment on him. They passed sentence 
upon him, and on January 30, 1649, Charles was beheaded in 
front of his palace of Whitehall, London. It must be clear 
from the above account that it was not the nation at large 
which demanded Charles' death, but a very small group of 
extremists who claimed to be the representatives of the nation.^ 

188. The Rump Parliament, as the remnant of the House England 
of Commons was contemptuously called, proclaimed England common- 
to be thereafter a commonwealth, that is, a republic, without republic, 
a king or House of Lords. Cromwell, the head of the army, the head of 
was the real ruler of England. He derived his main support ment. 
from the Independents ; and it is very surprising that he was 
able to maintain himself so long, considering what a small 
portion of the English people was in sympathy with the reh- 
gious ideas of that sect and with the abolition of kingship. 
Even the Presbyterians were on the side of Charles II, the 
legal heir to the throne. Yet Cromwell represented the 
principles for which the opponents of tyranny had been con- 
tending. He was, moreover, a vigorous and skillful adminis- 
trator, and had a well-organized army of fifty thousand men at 
his command ; otherwise the republic could scarcely have 
lasted more than a few months. 

Cromwell found himself confronted by every variety of diffi- Ireland and 
culty. The three kingdoms had fallen apart. The nobles subdued, 
and Catholics in Ireland proclaimed Charles II as king, 
and Ormond, a Protestant leader, formed an army of Irish 
Catholics and English royalist Protestants with a view of 
overthrowing the Commonwealth. Cromwell accordingly set 
out for Ireland, where he took an important fortified town 
and put two thousand men to the sword. Town after 
town surrendered to the forces of the Commonwealth, and in 

1 For charge against the king, etc., see Lee, Source-book of English History^ 
PP- 364-372. 


History of Western Europe 

The Naviga- 
tion Act, 1651. 

war between 
Holland and 

dissolves the 
Long Parlia- 
ment (1653), 
and is made 
Lord Pro- 
tector by 
his own 

1652, after much cruelty, the island was once more conquered. 
A large part of it was confiscated for the benefit of the Eng- 
lish, and the Catholic landowners were driven into the moun- 
tains. In the meantime (1650) Charles II had landed in 
Scotland, and upon his agreeing to be a Presbyterian king, 
the whole Scotch nation was ready to support him. But Scot- 
land was subdued even more promptly than Ireland had been. 
So completely was the Scottish army destroyed that Cromwell 
found no need to draw the sword again in the British Isles. 

Although it would seem that Cromwell had enough to keep 
him busy at home, he had already engaged in a victorious 
foreign war against the Dutch, who had become dangerous 
commercial rivals of England. The ships which went out 
from Amsterdam and Rotterdam were the best merchant ves- 
sels in the world, and had got control of the carrying trade 
between Europe and the colonies. In order to put an end to 
this, the English Parliament passed the Navigation Act (165 i), 
which permitted only English vessels to bring goods to Eng- 
land, unless the goods came in vessels belonging to the coun- 
try which had produced them. This led to a commercial 
war between Holland and England, and a series of battles 
was fought between the EngHsh and Dutch fleets, in which 
sometimes one and sometimes the other gained the upper 
hand. This war is notable as the first example of the com- 
mercial struggles which were thereafter to take the place of 
the religious conflicts of the preceding period. 

Cromwell failed to get along with Parliament any better 
than Charles had done. The Rump Parliament had become 
very unpopular, for its members, in spite of their boasted piety, 
accepted bribes and were zealous in the promotion of their 
relatives in the public service. At last Cromwell upbraided 
them angrily for their injustice and self-interest, which were 
injuring the pubHc cause. On being interrupted by a mem- 
ber, he cried out, " Come, come, we have had enough of this. 

Struggle in England fo7' Cojistitutional Government 489 

I '11 put an end to this. It 's not fit that you should sit here 
any longer," and calling in his soldiers he turned the members 
out of the House and sent them home. Having thus made an 
end of the Long Parliament (April, 1653), he summoned a 
Parliament of his own, made up of God-fearing men whom he 
and the officers of his army chose. This extraordinary body 
is known as Barebone's Parliament, from a distinguished mem- 
ber, a London merchant, with the characteristically Puritan 
name of Praisegod Barebone. Many of these godly men w^ere 
unpractical and hard to deal with. A minority of the more 
sensible ones got up early one winter morning (December, 
1653) and, before their opponents had a chance to protest, 
declared Parliament dissolved and placed the supreme authority 
in the hands of Cromw^ell. 

For nearly five years Cromwell was, as Lord Protector, — a The Pro- 
• 1 r • 11 1 • /- -r^ tector's 

title equivalent to that of regent, — practically king of Eng- foreign 

land, although he refused actually to accept the royal insignia. 
He did not succeed in permanently organizing the government 
at home but showed remarkable ability in his foreign negotia- 
tions. He formed an alliance with France, and EngHsh troops 
aided the French in winning a great victory over Spain. 
England gained thereby Dunkirk, and the West Indian island 
of Jamaica. The French king, Louis XIV, at first hesitated 
to address Cromwell, in the usual courteous way of monarchs, 
as " my cousin," but soon admitted that he would have to call 
Cromwell " father " should he wish it, as the Protector was 
undoubtedly the most powerful person in Europe. 

In May, 1658, Cromwell fell ill, and as a great storm passed Death of 
over England at that time, the Cavaliers asserted that the devil September, 
had come to fetch home the soul of the usurper. Cromwell 
was dying, it is true, but he was no instrument of the devil. 
He closed a hfe of honest effort for his fellow-beings with a 
last touching prayer to God, whom he had consistently sought 
to serve : " Thou hast made me, though very unworthy, a 


History of Western Europe 

The Resto- 

Charles II 
back as king, 

Character of 
Charles II, 

mean instrument to do Thy people some good and Thee 
service : and many of them have set too high a value upon 
me, though others wish and would be glad of my death. 
Pardon such as desire to trample upon the dust of a poor 
worm, for they are Thy people too ; and pardon the folly of 
this short prayer, even for Jesus Christ's sake, and give us a 
good night, if it be Thy pleasure. Amen." ^ 

189. After Cromwell's death his son Richard, who succeeded 
him, found himself unable to carry on the government. He 
soon abdicated, and the remnants of the Long Parliament met 
once more. But the power was really in the hands of the 
soldiers. In 1660 George Monk, who was in command of the 
forces in Scotland, came to London with a view of putting an 
end to the anarchy. He soon concluded that no one cared to 
support the Rump, and that body peacefully disbanded of its 
own accord. Resistance would have been vain in any case with 
the army against it. The nation was glad to acknowledge 
Charles K, whom every one preferred to a government by 
soldiers. A new Parliament, composed of both houses, was 
assembled, which welcomed a messenger from the king and 
solemnly resolved that, " according to the ancient and funda- 
mental laws of this kingdom, the government is, and ought to 
be, by king, lords, and commons." Thus the Puritan revolu- 
tion and the ephemeral republic was followed by the Restoratmi 
of the Stuarts. 

Charles H was quite as fond as his father of having his own 
way, but he was a man of more ability. He disliked to be 
ruled by Parliament ; but, unlike his father, he was unwiUing to 
arouse the nation against him. He did not propose to let 
anything happen which would send him on his travels again. 
He and his courtiers were fond of pleasure of a hght-minded 
and immoral kind. The licentious dramas of the Restoration 
seem to indicate that those who had been forced by the 

1 Reference, Green, SJiort History^ pp. 580-588, 594-600. 

Struggle i7i England for Co7istitiitioiml Government 49 1 

Puritans to give up their legitimate pleasures now welcomed 

the opportunity to indulge in reckless gayety without regard 

to the bounds imposed by custom and decency. 

Charles' first Parliament was a moderate body, but his second Religious 
-i 1 1 n /- ^ 1- 1 • 1 measures 

was made up almost wholly of Cavahers, and it got along, on adopted by 

the whole, so well with the king that he did not dissolve it for 
eighteen years. It did not take up the old question, which 
was still unsettled, as to whether Parliament or the king was 
really supreme. It showed its hostihty, however, to the Puri- 
tans by a series of intolerant acts, which are very important in 
English history. It ordered that no one should hold a munici- 
pal office who had not received the Eucharist according to the 
rites of the Church of England. This was aimed at both the 
Presbyterians and the Independents. By the Act of Uniform- The Act of 

, .. N , , r t , • Uniformity. 

ity (1662), every clergyman who refused to accept everything 
contained in the Book of Common Prayer was to be excluded 
from holding his benefice. Two thousand clergymen there- 
upon resigned their positions for conscience' sake. These laws 
tended to throw all those Protestants who refused to conform 
to the Church of England into a single class, still known as 

Dissenters. It included the Independents, the Presbyte- The Dis- 
rians, and the newer bodies of the Baptists, and the Society 

of Friends, commonly known as Quakers. These sects aban- 
doned any idea of controUing the religion or politics of the 
country, and asked only that they might be permitted to 
worship in their own way outside of the English Church. 

Toleration found an unexpected ally in the king, who, in Toleration 
^ ^ . ,. . favored by 

spite of his dissolute habits, had interest enough m religion to the king. 

have secret leanings toward Catholicism. He asked Parliament 

to permit him to moderate the rigor of the Act of Uniformity by 

making some exceptions. He even issued a declaration in the 

interest of toleration, with a view of bettering the position of 

the CathoHcs and nonconformists. Suspicion was, however, 

aroused lest this toleration might lead to the restoration of 

492 History of Westerji Europe 

TheConven- " popery," and Parliament passed the harsh Conventicle Act 
ticlc Act 

(1664). Any adult attending a conventicle — that is to say, 

any religious meeting not held in accordance with the prac- 
tice of the English Church — was liable to penalties which 
culminated in transportation to some distant colony. Samuel 
Pepys, who saw some of the victims of this law upon their 
way to a terrible exile, notes in his famous diary : " They go 
like lambs without any resistance. I would to God that they 
would conform or be more wise and not be catched." A few 
years later Charles issued a declaration giving complete reli- 
gious liberty to Roman Catholics as well as to Dissenters. 
Parliament not only forced him to withdraw this enlightened 
The Test measure but passed the Test Act, which excluded every one 


from public office who did not accept the Anglican views. 

War with The old war with Holland, begun by Cromwell, was renewed 

Holland. ' o ^ ? 

under Charles II, who was earnestly desirous to increase 

English commerce and to found new colonies. The two 
nations were very evenly matched on the sea, but in 1664 the 
English seized some of the West Indian Islands from the 
Dutch and also their colony on Manhattan Island, which was 
renamed New York in honor of the king's brother. In 1667 
a treaty was signed by England and Holland which confirmed 
these conquests. Three years later Charles was induced by 
Louis XIV to conclude a secret treaty, by which he engaged 
to aid Louis in a fresh war upon Holland. Louis cherished 
a grudge against Holland for preventing him from seizing the 
Spanish Netherlands, to which he asserted a claim on behalf 
of his Spanish wife.^ In return for Charles' promised aid, 
Louis was to support him with money and troops whenever 
Charles thought fit publicly to declare himself a Catholic — 
he had already acknowledged his conversion to a select circle. 
But Charles' nephew, William of Orange, — the great-grand- 
son of William the Silent, — who was later to become king 
1 See below, p. 502. 

Struggle ill England for Constitntiomil Government 493 

of England, encouraged the Dutch to withstand, and Louis 
was forced to rehnquish his purpose of conquering this stub- 
born people. Peace was concluded in 1674, and England and 
Holland soon became allies against Louis, who was now recog- 
nized as the greatest danger which Europe had to face. 

190. Upon Charles' death he was succeeded by his brother James 11, 
James, who was an avowed Catholic and had married, as his 
second wife, a Catholic, Mary of Modena. He was ready 
to reestabhsh Cathohcism in England regardless of what it 
might cost him. Mary, James' daughter by his first wife, had 
married WilHam, Prince of Orange, the head of the United 
Netherlands. The nation might have tolerated James so long 
as they could look forward to the accession of his Protestant 
daughter. But when a son was born to his Catholic second 
wife, and James showed unmistakably his purpose of favor- 
ing the Catholics, messengers were dispatched by a group of 
Protestants to William of Orange, asking him to come and 
rule over them. 

Charles I, m. Henrietta Maria 

1 ! 1 

Charles II Mary, m. William II Anne Hyde, m. James II, m. Mary of Modena 


Prince of 


William III, m, Mary Anne Charles Francis Edward, 

(1688-1702) (1702-1714) the Old Pretender 

William landed in November, 1688, and marched upon Therevoiu- 
London, where he received general support from all the English and the 
Protestants, regardless of party. James started to oppose Wil- wiiiiam iii, 

liam, but his army refused to fight, and his courtiers deserted 
him. William was glad to forward James' flight to France, 
as he would hardly have known what to do with him had 
James insisted on remaining in the country. A new Parlia- 
ment declared the throne vacant, on the ground that King 

1688 -I 702. 

494 History of Western Europe 

James II, '' by the advice of the Jesuits and other wicked 
persons, having violated the fundamental laws and withdrawn 
himself out of the kingdom, had abdicated the government." 
TheDeciara- A Declaration of Rights was then drawn up, condemning 
Right. James' violation of the constitution and appointing William and 

Mary joint sovereigns. The Declaration of Rights, which is an 
important monument in English constitutional history, once 
more stated the fundamental rights of the English nation and the 
limitations which the Petition of Right and Magna Charta had 
placed upon the king. By this peaceful revolution of 1688 
the English rid themselves of the Stuarts and their claims 
to rule by divine right, and once more declared themselves 
against the domination of the Church of Rome. 

General Reading. — Gardiner, The First Two Stuarts and the 
Puritan Revolution (Charles Scribner's Sons, ^i.oo). Gardiner, Con- 
stitutio7ial Documents of the Puritan Revohction (Clarendon Press, 
$2.25). For Cromwell, Carlyle, "The Hero as King" in Heroes and 
Hero Worship. MoRLEY, Oliver Cromwell (The Century Company, 
^3-5o)- For the Puritans, Campbell, The Puritans in Europe, Hol- 
land, England, and America (2 vols., Harper, ^5.00). FiSKE, The 
Beginnings of A'ew Etigland (Houghton, JMifflin & Co., ^2.00). 
Macau LAY, Essay on Milton. 



191. Under the despotic rule of Louis XIV (1643-17 15) France at the 
France enjoyed a commanding influence in European affairs. Louis xiv, 
After the wars of religion were over, the royal authority had 
been reestablished by the wise conduct of Henry IV. Riche- 
lieu had solidified the monarchy by depriving the Huguenots 
of the exceptional privileges granted to them for their protec- 
tion by Henry IV ; he had also destroyed the fortified castles 
of the nobles, whose power had greatly increased during the 
turmoil of the Huguenot wars. His successor. Cardinal Maza- 
rin, who conducted the government during Louis XIV's boy- 
hood, was able to put down a last rising of the discontented 

When Mazarin died in 1661, he left to the young monarch what Riche- 
lieu and 
a kingdom such as no previous French king had enjoyed. The Mazarin had 
^ ^ . . done for the 

nobles, who for centuries had disputed the power with Hugh French mon- 

Capet and his successors, were no longer feudal lords but only 

courtiers. The Huguenots, whose claim to a place in the state 
beside the Catholics had led to the terrible civil wars of the 
sixteenth century, were reduced in numbers and no longer 
held fortified towns from which they could defy the king's 
agents. Richelieu and Mazarin had successfully taken a hand 
in the Thirty Years' War, and France had come out of it with 
enlarged territory and increased importance in European affairs. 

Louis XIV carried the work of these great ministers still The govern- 
farther. He gave that form to the French monarchy which Louis xiv. 

1 Reference, Wakeman, Europe from isqS-iyis, Chapter VII. 


History of Western Eiu'ope 

The theory of 
the ' divine 
right ' of 
kings in 

attitude of 
the English 
and French 

it retained until the French Revolution. He made himself 
the very mirror of kingship. His marvelous court at Ver- 
sailles became the model and the despair of other less opulent 
and powerful princes, who accepted his theory of the absolute 
power of kings but could not afford to imitate his luxury. By 
his incessant wars of aggression he kept Europe in turmoil for 
over half a century. The distinguished generals who led his 
newly organized troops, and the wily diplomats who arranged 
his alliances and negotiated his treaties, made France feared 
and respected by even the most powerful of the other European 

192. Louis XIV had the same idea of kingship that James I 
had tried in vain to induce the English people to accept. God 
had given kings to men, and it was His will that monarchs 
should be regarded as His lieutenants and that all those 
subject to them should obey them absolutely, without asking 
any questions or making any criticisms.; for in yielding to their 
prince they were really yielding to God Himself If the king 
were good and wise, his subjects should thank the Lord ; if he 
proved fooHsh, cruel, or perverse, they must accept their evil 
ruler as a punishment which God had sent them for their 
sins. But in no case might they limit his power or rise 
against him.^ 

Louis had two great advantages over James. In the first place 
the English nation has always shown itself far more reluctant 
than France to place absolute power in the hands of its rulers. 
By its Parliament, its courts, and its various declarations of the 
nation's rights, it had built up traditions which made it impos- 
sible for the Stuarts to estabhsh their claim to be absolute rulers. 
In France, on the other hand, there was no Great Charter or Bill 
of Rights ; the Estates General did not hold the purse strings. 

1 Louis does not appear to have himself used the famous expression, " / am 
the state" usuall}' attributed to him, but it exactly corresponds to his idea of 

the relation of the king and the state. 

The Ascendency of Fin f tee under Loins XIV 497 

and the king was permitted to raise money without asking 
their permission or previously redressing the grievances which 
they chose to point out. They were therefore only summoned 
at irregular intervals. When Louis XIV took charge of the 
government, forty-seven years had passed without a meeting 
of the Estates General, 
and a century and a 
quarter was still to elapse 
before another call to the 
representatives of the 
nation was issued in 1789. 
Moreover, the French 
people placed far more 
reliance upon a powerful 
king than the English, 
perhaps because they 
were not protected by 
the sea from their neigh- 
bors, as England was. 
On every side France 
had enemies ready to take 
advantage of any weak- 
ness or hesitation which 
might arise from dissen- 
sion between a parliament 
and the king. So the French felt it best, on the whole, to 
leave all in the king's hands, even if they suffered at times 
from his tyranny. 

Louis had another great advantage over Tames. He was a Personal 

handsome man, of elegant and courtly mien and the most isticsof 

' . ^^ \ ,.1 ■^^■ -, Louis XIV. 

exquisite perfection of manner ; even when playing billiards 
he retained an air of world mastery. The first of the Stuarts, 
on the contrary, was a very awkward man, whose slouching 
gait, intolerable manners, and pedantic conversation were 

Louis XIV 

498 History of Western Europe 

utterly at variance with his lofty pretensions. Louis added 
to his graceful exterior a sound judgment and quick appre- 
hension. He said neither too much nor too Httle. He was, 
for a king, a hard worker and spent several hours a day 
attending to the business of government. It requires, in fact, a 
great deal of energy and application to be a real despot. In 
order really to understand and to solve the problems which 
constantly face the ruler of a great state, a monarch must, Hke 
Frederick the Great or Napoleon, rise early and toil late. 
Louis was greatly aided by the able ministers who sat in his 
council, but he always retained for himself the place of first 
minister. He would never have consented to be dominated 
by an adviser, as his father had been by RicheHeu. ''The 
profession of the king," he declared, " is great, noble, and 
delightful if one but feels equal to performing the duties which 
it involves," — and he never harbored a doubt that he him- 
self was born for the business. 
The king's IQS* Louis XIV was careful that his surroundings should 

veialnes. suit the grandeur of his office. His court was magnificent 
beyond anything that had been dreamed of in the West. He 
had an enormous palace constructed at Versailles, just outside 
of Paris, with interminable halls and apartments and a vast 
garden stretching away behind it. About this a town was laid 
out, where those who were privileged to be near his majesty or 
supply the wants of the royal court lived. This palace and 
its outlying buildings, including two or three less gorgeous 
residences for the king when he occasionally tired of the 
ceremony of Versailles, probably cost the nation about a 
hundred milhon dollars, in spite of the fact that thousands 
of peasants and soldiers were forced to turn to and work with- 
out remuneration. The furnishings and decorations were as 
rich and costly as the palace was splendid. For over a 
century Versailles continued to be the home of the French 
kings and the seat of their government. 

The Ascendejicy of Fi'arice under Louis XIV 499 

This splendor and luxury helped to attract the nobility, who Life at 

1-1 T • • 11 r -r 1 11 Louis xiv 

no longer lived on their estates m well-iortined castles, plan- court. 

ning how they might escape the royal control. They now 

dwelt in the effulgence of the king's countenance. They saw 

him to bed at night and in stately procession they greeted him 

in the morning. It was deemed a high honor to hand him his 

shirt as he was being dressed, or, at dinner, to provide him 

The King's Bedroom in the Palace of Versailles 

with a fresh napkin. Only by living close to the king could 
the courtiers hope to gain favors, pensions, and lucrative 
offices for themselves and their friends, and perhaps occa- 
sionally to exercise some little influence upon the policy of the 
government. For they were now entirely dependent upon the 
good will of their monarch.^ 

The reforms which Louis carried out in the earlier part The reforms 
r 1 • • 111 1 r 1 r • of Colbert. 

of his reign were largely the work of the great financier, 

1 Reference, Perkins, France under the Regency^ pp. 129-141. 

500 History of Western Europe 

Colbert, to whom France still looks back with gratitude. He 
early discovered that Louis' officials were steaHng and wasting 
vast sums. The offenders were arrested and forced to dis- 
gorge, and a new system of bookkeeping was introduced 
similar to that employed by business men. He then turned 
his attention to increasing the manufactures of France by 
establishing new industries and seeing that the older ones 
kept to a high standard, which would make French goods sell 
readily in foreign markets. He argued justly that if for- 
eigners could be induced to buy French goods, these sales 
would bring gold and silver into the country and so enrich it. 
He made rigid rules as to the width and quality of cloths 
which the manufacturers might produce and the dyes which 
they might use. He even reorganized the old mediaeval guilds ; 
for through them the government could keep its eye on all 
the manufacturing that was done, and this would have been 
far more difficult if every one had been free to carry on any 
trade which he might choose. There were serious draw- 
backs to this kind of government regulation, but France 
accepted it, nevertheless, for many years. -^ 

Art and liter- It was, however, as a patron of art and literature that 
ature in the 

reign of Louis XIV gained much of his celebrity. Moliere, who 

Louis XIV. ° , . , , ;,.,,, 

was at once a playwright and an actor, delighted the court 

with comedies in which he delicately satirized the foibles 
of his time. Corneille, who had gained renown by the great 
tragedy of The Cid in Richelieu's time, found a worthy 
successor in Racine, the most distinguished perhaps of 
French tragic poets. The charming letters of Madame 
de Se'vigne are models of prose style and serve at the same 
time to give us a glimpse into the more refined life of the 
court. In the famous memoirs of Saint-Simon, the weak- 
nesses of the king, as well as the numberless intrigues of 
the courtiers, are freely exposed with inimitable skill and wit. 

1 Reference, Perkins, France under the Regency^ Chapter IV. 

The Ascendency of Frajice under Lojiis XIV 501 

Men of letters were generously aided by the kiner with The govern- 

y o ment fosters 

pensions. Colbert encouraged the French Academy, which thedeveiop- 

had been created by Richelieu. This body gave special French lan- 
guage and 
attention to making the French tongue more eloquent and literature. 

expressive by determining what words should be used. It is 
now the greatest honor that a Frenchman can obtain to be made 
one of the forty members of this association. A magazine 
which still exists, the Journal des Savants, was founded for the 
promotion of science. Colbert had an astronomical observa- 
tory built at Paris ; and the Royal Library, which only pos- 
sessed about sixteen thousand volumes, began to grow into 
that great collection of two and a half million volumes — by 
far the largest in existence — which to-day attracts scholars 
to Paris from all parts of the world. In short, Louis and 
his ministers believed one of the chief objects of any govern- 
ment to be the promotion of art, literature, and science, 
and the example they set has been followed by almost every 
modern state.-^ 

194. Unfortunately for France, the king's ambitions were Louis xivs 
by no means altogether peaceful. Indeed, he regarded his enterprises, 
wars as his chief glory. He employed a carefully reorganized 
army and the skill of his generals in a series of inexcusable 
attacks on his neighbors, in which he finally squandered all 
that Colbert's economies had accumulated and led France 
to the edge of financial ruin. 

Louis XIV's predecessors had had, on the whole, little time He aims to 

restore the 

to think of conquest. They had first to consolidate their 'natural 


realms and gain the mastery of their feudal dependents, of France. 

who shared the power with them ; then the claims of the 
English Edwards and Henrys had to be met, and the French 
provinces freed from their clutches ; lastly, the great religious 
dispute was only settled after many years of disintegrating 
civil war. But Louis was now at liberty to look about him 

1 Reference, Perkins, France render the Regency, pp. 141-147. 


Histoiy of Western Europe 

Louis lays 
claim to the 

The invasion 
of the Nether- 
lands, 1667. 


and consider how he might best reaHze the dream of his 
ancestors and perhaps reestabhsh the ancient boundaries which 
Caesar reported that the Gauls had occupied. The " natural 
limits " of France appeared to be the Rhine on the north and 
east, the Jura Mountains and the Alps on the southeast, and to 
the south the Mediterranean and the Pyrenees. Richelieu had 
believed that it was the chief end of his ministry to restore to 
France the boundaries determined for it by nature. Mazarin 
had labo